Are you listening?

Listening: easier said than done!

Being heard and seen is, at its best, a wonderful service we can do for one another. 

At work, at home, with friends, there are way in which we can show others we are listening, and thus fulfill their needs to be seen and heard.

Here are some dos for listening:

•       We pay attention with active listening, we build trust and create a safe space

•       We have an unconditional positive regard for the speaker

•       We ask open and probing questions, but not too many, and one at a time (with follow-up)

•       We are curious, and wait for the whole story

•       We summarize and request clarification (and we never overreact)

•       We heartily agree and very softly disagree

•       We paraphrase (and reframe)

•       We pay special attention to voice, BL, phrasing, silence, tears

•       We remain a positive, but neutral listener (no defensiveness)

•       We are safe, and what is said in the room stays there

So, what is ACTIVE listening?  Here are some active listening skills: pay attention, suspend judgment, reflect (back), clarify and summarize, share and be vulnerable yourself.

Here are some don’ts for listening:

•       We don’t interrupt and AVOID premature solutions, as well as AVOID dependency

•       We don’t judge or become condescending

•       We allow for pain (and don’t usurp it, trying to “fix”)

•       We don’t jump to conclusions

•       We don’t speak for the speaker (put words in their mouths)

•       We don’t multitask

•       Assume the speaker is like me (same problems, same thoughts)

What is the result of listening?

•       Acceptance, the person is seen and heard and not judged

•       There becomes a safe space to be and then to begin to change, often just being heard eventually brings about the change they want

•       The person can safely reflect and then see the picture of the situation more clearly

•       The person can accept their present situation and reflect on it 

•       The confidentiality is key, so there is trust and safety for the person to really discuss their issues

When we listen to others, we show them that they as individuals are valuable and that their issues are important.  This allows them to feel a sense of worth and to begin to accept their situation so they can move on and change.  Listening, when done well, is a powerful tool for self-reflection and change.

Supervision and coaching both use active and reflective (or deep) listening to help clients as one of their interventions.  It’s a great challenge to help clients clearly see their situation so they can begin to change.

I wish you a wonderful month of listening and of being heard.

Patricia Jehle