What are three types of effective listening?
To paraphrase, one simply rewords what another individual has said. For example, the speaker might say, "She was foolish to quit her job." The listener might respond, "I hear you saying that you believe she shouldn't have quit." What has occurred is paraphrasing where the listener has clarified what the speaker has said.
2. Open Questions
An open question explores a person's statement without requiring a simple "yes" or "no" answer. The basic difference between an open question and a closed question is what they provide the person being asked. When you are asked an open question it helps you think more about an issue. A closed question will not do that. It may force you to answer before you are ready, or require a "yes" or "no" answer that doesn't allow more thinking about the issue. Closed questions close the door on further thought, while open questions open the door. For example, the speaker might say, "I don't like my job." The listener might respond, "What about your job don't you like?" or, "Tell me more about your feelings regarding your job."
3. Feeling Reflection
Feeling reflection is a response in which you express a feeling or emotion you have experienced in reference to a particular statement. For example, the speaker might say, "I get sick of working so much overtime!" The listener might respond, "I hear you feeling angry and resentful at being asked to work so much overtime." Feeling reflections are perhaps the most difficult active listening responses to make. Not only do you actively listen to what is being said but also you actively listen for what is being felt. When you make a feeling reflection, you are reflecting back what you hear of another's feelings. It is similar to paraphrasing; however, you repeat what you heard them feeling instead of what you heard them saying. To understand what individuals are feeling, you must listen to their words, to their tone of voice, and watch their body signals. By observing all three you can begin to guess their feelings.
* Listen carefully so that you will be able to understand, comprehend and evaluate. Careful listening will require a conscious effort on your part. You must be aware of the verbal and nonverbal messages (reading between the lines).
* Be mentally and physically prepared to listen. Put other thoughts out of your mind. Your attention will be diverted from listening if you try to think of answers in advance.
* You can't hear if you do all the talking.
* Think about the topic in advance, if possible. Be prepared to listen.
* Listen with empathy. See the situation from the other's point of view. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
* Be courteous; don't interrupt. Take notes if you worry about forgetting a particular point.
* Avoid stereotyping individuals by making assumptions about how you expect them to act. This will bias your listening.
* Listen to how something is said. Be alert for what is left unsaid.
* Make certain everyone involved gets an opportunity to voice their opinions. Don't let one person dominate the conversation.
* Face those you are talking with, lean slightly forward and make eye contact. Use your body to show your interest and concern.
Roadblocks to Effective Listening
The following types of responses indicate ineffective listening:
* giving solutions
Reasons to Improve Listening Skills
* To avoid saying the wrong thing, being tactless
* To dissipate strong feelings
* To learn to accept feelings (yours and others)
* To generate a feeling of caring
* To help people start listening to you
* To increase the other person's confidence in you
* To make the other person feel important and recognized
* To be sure you both are on the same wavelength
* To be sure you both are focused on the same topic
* To check that you are both are on target with one another
Questions to Ask Yourself in Conversations
* What am I doing in this interaction?
* What are my strategies or goals in communicating this message?
* Where do I want to go in this conversation?
* What is my body feeling right now in this conversation?
* What pressures am I feeling in talking with this person?
* What could I say differently?
* How could I say that so as to show I understood?
* What am I feeling at this time?
* What impulses do I have?
* What is my decision--making process in this conversation?
* How is she feeling toward me?
* What do I want or not want him to feel?
* What risks am I experiencing in this conversation?
* How is her appearance affecting me?
* What fantasy is going on in my head in this dialogue?
* What cues of the other am I responding to?
* How does his behavior affect my approach in this discussion?
* How genuine am I feeling at this time?
* How does what I say reflect genuineness to her?
* How could I have made what I just said more empathetic? How did I demonstrate respect for the other?
* How is my level of communication and vocabulary affecting the dialogue?
* What different style of communication could I use to reach her better?
* How attentive am I to him at this time?
* How do I feel about her response?
* How comfortable am I feeling at this time?
* How are my values affecting what I am hearing at this time?
* What is the level of my trust at this time?
* How did that question further the discussion and show I was listening?
* How mutually helpful is this conversation at this time?
* How honest are my statements with her?
* How comfortable am I in honestly labeling what I see going on with him?
* What can I do to improve the feedback I am giving the other?
* How well am I tuning into her feelings?
* What responses can I use to demonstrate that I am "with" the other?
Feelings for Which You Can be Listening
Use these lists of words to help you as you listen for the feelings of others in your conversations. Try to identify the other person's feeling, then reflect them back to the speaker.
Positive feelings include love, affection, concern, interest, elation and joy.
Negative feelings include depression, sadness, distress, fear, anger and anxiety.
Practice Listening for Feelings
Give either a paraphrase, an open question or a feeling-reflection listening response for each of the following statements. First identify the feelings, then give your response. Compare your answers with a friend's. Discuss the feelings identification and appropriateness of your responses.
"I am overwhelmed with work and can't get to your project yet."
"No one ever appreciates me around here!"
"I am lost. I'll never get this job done. Can you help me with this?"
"When I was younger I never knew what to expect in my house. One day Dad would be happy and carefree, and the next day he might be angry and hateful."
"I always work hard to achieve the goals of my group. I can't believe everyone else doesn't feel that way."
"I am so upset. I hate bringing the baby to the mall. Everyone stares at him. I get so embarrassed, I could cry!"
"Why doesn't anyone understand how I feel? I try my hardest but it never seems to matter. They still argue and fight all the time."
"I would rather die than let anyone know how I feel about it."
"No one but me is responsible for what happens to me. Butt out of my business and I'll butt out of yours."
"Why did this have to happen to me? What did I do wrong? Why has God chosen me for this?"
"Why doesn't anyone ever hear me? I am so anxious for them to give me a chance but they all seem busy and preoccupied. I don't think they really care about me anymore."
"You are all a bunch of phonies. I can't stand your cold-hearted, pompous ideas of right and wrong. I'd rather be anywhere else than with you tonight!"
"I get so embarrassed in that group. Everyone seems so together and with it. I'm afraid they would never accept me for who I am and the way I feel."
"I get so uptight coming to this group every week. I am sure that someday my turn will come and I'll be so clammed up I'll never be able to say a word."
"I am so afraid of letting my feelings out. If I ever let them out, I may never stop. I might go over the edge."
"My dad and mom are so busy taking care of my little brother that I'm afraid to tell them about my problems. They seem insignificant compared to his problems."
"Nobody really cares if we win or lose. They goof around and take nothing serious."
"I am so untalented, ignorant and ugly that no one could possibly love me."
"I wish that I had never been born. If I hadn't been born, maybe my family wouldn't have had such problems. Maybe Mom and Dad would have been happy and not divorced."
"I want to thank you for making this the best day of my life. You are all so special and wonderful. I love you all."
Listening Role-Play Activity
You and a friend can practice effective listening on one another. Practice with these suggested topics.
One partner takes a turn as speaker, the other as listener. For 5 minutes the speaker elaborates on one of the ten topics. The listener uses effective listening and makes appropriate responses back to the speaker.
After the 5-minute role play is completed, the speaker spends two minutes giving feedback to the listening partner on the effective listener skills used. Review Section II to help you give appropriate feedback.
After the first practice and feedback session, switch roles until all topics have been covered.
Practice Listening Topics:
How I feel about:
* My life today.
* Being raised in my family of origin.
* All the good things that have happened to me.
* My future.
* My decision to participate in a support group.
* My current personal problems.
* Learning to deal with my problems.
* Listening to other people's deepest concerns and feelings.
* Showing love to those closest to me.
* The fact that I influence my life, regardless of the events, with either positive or negative outcomes.