In the last two articles we talked about what communication was and how to be more effective in listening such as I-statements. Have you tried to become more aware of your communication skills? Have you tried to be more ‘present’ when others are talking, to use I-statements instead of ‘you should have…’?
This time, I want to discuss active listening. Active listening is when the receiver is restating back to the sender what they said (content) in their own words. This allows the sender to know if the receiver understood what they were saying.
“What I’m hearing you say is…”
“Sounds like you are saying…”
“What do you mean when you say…”
“Is this way you mean….”
Ask questions to clarify.
Active listening does not necessarily mean that you agree with what is being said. What it is telling the sender is that you are listening and you understand what they are saying. When dealing with someone with a mental illness, this is essential. If they do not want to take their meds, you can convey that you understand that even if you do not agree.
Some key points in active listening are:
- Be focused on the person communicating
- Be aware of the non-verbal cues (body cues and emotions)
- Be involved with your body language (eye contact, lean forward, face them)
- Avoid distractions (TV, reading, listening to radio)
- Set aside your own preconceived ideas and thoughts
- If the topic stirs your emotions, try to keep your emotions separated from the topic at hand.
I-statements (discussed last time) and active listening are very effective ways to communicate with our loved ones or business co-workers. These skills allow the speaker to know you are there and understand what they are saying. Next time, we will learn about another form of communication that gives credence to feelings. In the meantime, try to practice these listening skill