“True human sincerity, true transparency…is a rare and difficult thing; and so much of it depends on the person who is listening to us!
When it comes our turn to listen, which of these are we?
Effective listening involves three main skills: Paying Attention, Following, and Reflecting.
Attention is to listen with your whole body. To attend to someone is to have an open posture, lean in, maintain eye contact and remain in relaxed alertness.
85% of communication is non-verbal!
Following means to stay out of the other person’s way so you can discover how they view their situation. Invite someone to speak, encourage them with short, minimal phrases, ask open-ended questions (infrequently!), and practice the value of silence.
Reflecting is when the listener restates the feeling or content of what the speaker has communicated and does so in a way that demonstrates understanding and acceptance.
Paraphrasing focuses on the speaker’s content
Mirroring feelings infers feelings from content and reflects it back to the speaker
Expressing deeper understanding reflects the deeper layer behind the content and the feeling:
Speaker: “I can’t seem to do anything right for my boss.”
Receiver: “I hear (sense) that you are angry or frustrated that you don’t receive acknowledgement for the work you do…”
Summaries are recaps of the significant parts of a long monologue
What You Can Expect
There are four stages in the process of improving communication. First, when a person learns about the roadblocks they have been sending all their life, they feel guilty. Then, when they try these new skills, it seems wooden and artificial, and so the person feels phony. However, after using these new techniques for a few weeks, people often become quite skillful at them. Finally, after using them for a couple of years, it becomes so integrated into the person’s life style that they do it well and without conscious awareness.
The following was excerpted in part from People Skills: How to assert yourself, listen to others, and resolve conflicts by: Robert Bolton, Ph.D. This article is the third in a five part series about clean living through toxin-free communication. To read Part I about Nonviolent Communication, click here. To read Part II about Emotional Liberation, click here.
Aline Bethea Defiglia LCSW, MPH, CADC is a licensed psychotherapist, life and career coach, trainer and consultant practicing in Chicago and Elmhurst, Illinois. You can find out more at abwellness.life