Ask questions. You usually do not know the family’s needs unless you ask
appropriate questions and listen carefully to their answers.
Concentrate on what
they say. Too many times we merely pretend to listen, waiting for that
moment when we can jump back in and take control of the conversation. Listen intently. Soak up what they are saying.
Repeat back what they
have just said. When it is appropriate for you
to respond, do so by repeating the essence of what they have just told
you, for example, “Then
you believe that...” and
so on. This lets them know
you have heard what they said. It
gives them a chance to continue talking.
They know you are listening.
Do not change the
subject. Stay with what they are telling you. When they are quite finished, help them to continue talking
by asking another related question.
Invite them to tell
you more. If what they are saying is productive to you, encourage them
to continue: “Tell me
more,...What else did you feel?, etc..”
Do not interrupt. When you force yourself into their monologue, it obviously
breaks into their line of thought.
Depending on how forceful or oblique your interruption is, they
may never return to the genuine feelings they were trying to communicate
Do not let them see
you are not interested. If they lose eye contact with
you because you are gazing about, looking through your scriptures,
moving and shifting your position, they will quickly recognize you are
not listening to them, not interested in what they are saying. Their words may, in fact, be
uninteresting--but even so, your concentration and sensitivity about
what they are saying will help you learn more of them and thus become a
more helpful home minister.
8. Avoid criticism. How can you be a helpful
sounding board if you are too quick to criticize or too vocal in your
evaluation? Take a soft
approach. Compliment the
family where you can. If
they see you as being reasonable and responsive, they will seek your
council and advice again and again.
Avoiding criticism builds a trusting relationship.
Marshall, Richard J., Home Teaching with Purpose and Power,
Deseret Book Company, pp. 100-102.