My friend Dennis Beckman is the best listener I’ve ever met.
I’ve watched him carefully. It’s a thing of beauty.
Dennis doesn’t finish a thought for another person. He doesn’t start nodding his head before they are done. I’ve never heard him try to one-up a person’s story.
Several years ago, I watched Dennis apply his art by listening to a furious couple who believed their preteen daughter had been mistreated at a soccer tournament. Dennis, a volunteer referee, listened as the father ranted and the mother shook her fist. He hadn’t even made the call in question, yet he wanted to understand the parents’ frustration.
When the parents wore themselves out, Dennis told them he knew refs accidentally blew calls in almost every game and apologized for this circumstance. He also offered to talk to their daughter. The parents declined, retreating to their air-conditioned car and very embarrassed daughter.
I’ve been discovering the importance of listening as I’ve gotten older. If I had been in Dennis’ shoes back then, I’d still be preaching to those parents – that is, if I had ever let them voice their frustrations in the first place.