There are two types of listening that I will talk about, the first one is basically giving someone your attention, and the second has to to with being teachable.
Have you ever noticed how everyone wants to be listened to at one time or another? When someone is upset, often the best thing to do is to just sit down and listen to them (at least, that seems to work really well in our family).
In fact, if someone doesn't get listened to enough, it will cause them to feel anxious and depressed.
For a man, the best thing is to have a wife that really listens to him and vice versa. For a child, the best thing is to have their parents listen to them. And no one wants a friend that won't listen to them.
You never know who you have blessed just by listening to them (or who you may be able to bless by listening to them).
If you're naturally a more talkative person this may come a little harder for you, but it's worth while.
Of course, the best place to practice this is at home, since most of us older siblings have multiple opportunities to listen in the course of a day. We can't listen intently to every interruption because we'd never get any work done, but learn to pick and choose. The most important time to listen is when someone is having a hard day.
This will not only prepare you to be a good wife, it will help you be a good mother as well.
Here are a few ideas to help you learn to listen.
1. Make eye contact. When someone starts talking to you, turn around or put down your book and make eye contact. If you are doing something active, like making supper, you won't be able to look at them the whole time, but if you make eye contact every few minutes it will reassure the person that you are listening to them.
2. Listen to one person a day. Pick one person in your family (preferably a sibling) and choose a time of day that is less hectic than other times, go and find them and ask them how they're doing, how their day went etc. And don't listen to the first sentence and then start telling them how you're doing. This is your time to LISTEN.
3. If you are in the middle of school work, just stop what you are doing for about ten seconds and look at the person. After a little while say something like, "Hey, you know what? I have to finish my school work. But thanks for coming in and saying hi! Maybe you can tell me about your Legos later!" (Of course, I sometimes announce that I will be working hard on something for an hour and cannot be interrupted. That way if someone comes in you can just say "Tell me about it later, ok?" or make sure that your door is locked... Note: This rarely keeps interruptions from happening.)
4. If someone is having a crisis and they come to you, don't ask them to tell you about it later. Take 10 minutes and listen to them.
5. If your brother tells you about how excited he is about a new tree house that he's going to build, don't tell him all the reasons why it won't work. Instead listen and be excited with him. If it doesn't work, he'll find out for himself. (From what I hear, this is especially important when you are a wife... so practice now!)
6. People will be able to tell when you are not really listening. You know how exasperating and slightly embarressing it is when you are talking to someone and they get a glazed over look in their eyes as they look out the window while they nod and say "Uh huh, mmm, how interesting"? Don't do that to others!
7. If someone asks your advice, make sure that you know what you are giving advice about. That goes for giving your opinion as well. Remember Proverbs 18:13 "He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him."
8. Ask your Dad how work went today and really listen to his answer. When you get married your husband will want to talk about work with you so you should start learning to listen to work related talk now. :-)
So start listening to your siblings now! You might be surprised at what you didn't know about the members of your family.
Good listening skills are key to being a good wife, but they are also key in every other relationship you will ever have.