Tips for Sharing Your Faith: Listen to People

by Lenny Esposito

One of the things that irritates me more and more these days is the push for “suggestive selling” at fast food restaurants. Whenever I pull up to a drive-thru, I’ve usually looked at the menu and I know what I want to order. But when the attendant comes on the speaker she or she first pummels me with asking if I’d enjoy whatever their new special item is. This causes me to regroup for a second and recall my original order. Sometimes even as I’m ordering, they ask “what size would you like” or “would you like to add a XXX for only $1.49?” They will talk right over me when I’m in the middle of an order! I’ve even had attendants miss my drink order because they were too busy following their script.

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I understand that fast food chains want to introduce new options that I may not be aware of, and I understand that some cash registers require the options to be noted in a certain order, but talking over customers while they are trying to order is still terrible customer service. Customers can choose many different restaurants; they’re the ones with the money and they should feel like the cashier cares enough to get their order right before offering any add-ons.

Learning to Listen

The same is true when sharing your faith. Yesterday, I began a series of tips to help Christians better share and defend their faith. I said in that article that asking questions is crucial to being an effective ambassador for Christ. When I was first starting out in apologetics, I know that one of my bad habits was to talk with people and as they brought up a certain point, I would try to muster my responses while they were still talking. I was looking at apologetics like a tennis match: if he drops back, I’ll rush the net, if he moves to the left, I’ll aim for the right.

But this is exactly the wrong way to go about having a conversation! You aren’t conversing with another person when you are strategizing instead of listening. Just like the over-zealous cashier in the example above, then you starts planning your responses while the other person is still speaking, your mind isn’t focused on what they’re saying and you aren’t really hearing them. For someone who isn’t just trying to fight but really wants answers, this is off-putting and rude. They may not wish to talk about these things with you a second time if they think all you’re interested is talking about your position regardless of what they say…

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Come Reason’s Apologetics Notes: Tips for Sharing Your Faith: Listen to People