Active listening encourages all member voices. Listening makes us feel worthy, appreciated, interesting and respected. Ordinary conversations emerge on a deeper level, as do our relationships. When we listen, we foster the skill in others by acting as a model for positive and effective communication.
SIX STEPS TO ACTIVE LISTENING
VALIDATE what the speaker is saying.
- Acknowledge the value of the person’s issues and feelings
- Acknowledge their worth and efforts to resolve the problem
ENCOURAGE the speaker to talk and express their feelings.
- Convey interest in what they say
- Use neutral words – don’t agree or disagree
CLARIFY each one’s perception of what has happened.
- Ask questions avoiding “why?”
- Help the speaker see other points of view
RESTATE what has been said.
- This shows you are listening and gives opportunity to check your interpretations of what is being said
EMPATHIZE with the speaker.
- Shows you understand (although not necessarily agree with) how the person feels
- Helps speaker evaluate his/her feelings by hearing them expressed by someone else
SUMMARIZE the major feelings and ideas expressed.
- Pull together important ideas and facts
- Establish a basis for further discussion
WHY WE DON’T HEAR OTHERS
If you want to listen so you can really hear what others say, make sure you’re not falling into one of the categories below.
- MIND READER – You’ll hear little or nothing as you think “What is this person really thinking or feeling?”
- REHEARSER – Your mental tryouts for “Here’s what I’ll say next” tune out the speaker.
- FILTERER – Some call this selective listening – hearing only what you want to hear.
- DREAMER – Drifting off during a face-to-face conversation can lead to an embarrassing “What did you say?” or “Could you repeat that?”
- IDENTIFIER – If you refer everything you hear to your experience, you probably didn’t hear what was said.
- COMPARER – When you get side-tracked assessing the messenger, you’re sure to miss the message.
- DERAILER – Changing the subject too quickly tells others you’re not interested in anything they have to say.
- SPARRER – You hear what’s said but quickly belittle it or discount it. That puts you in the same class as the derailer.
- PLACATER – Agreeing with everything you hear just to be nice or to avoid conflict does not mean you’re a good listener.