Why?True problem-solving is based on understanding.The only way to understand another person is to listen to that person, and to seek clarification to ensure you are understanding.
Why?When people feel understood, they tend to be a lot more accepting of situations they may not like.When you understand someone elses perspective, the solutions to a problem you propose are more likely to be workable.This works for students, colleagues,
Active Listening: What?Active Listening is a specialized set of skills designed to ensure understanding between people and to communicate acceptance.When people are in distress, active listening can help them move out of "crisis mode" and into a problem-solving mode.
Active Listening ContextHow you listen communicates three important things to the person you are hearing:Unconditional positive regardEmpathyCongruence
Unconditional Positive RegardIn order for people to communicate honestly, they need to know that the listener will accept what they have to say.This does not mean condoning wrong-doing. Instead it means understanding the person behind the problem and accepting that person as a human being who has value in the world.
EmpathyEmpathy is not sympathy.Sympathy is based on pity. Empathy is based on understanding that if you were in the same shoes as the person you were listening to, you might consider the same actions. Even if you dont approve of someones behavior, you understand the conditions that are behind it and you understand the distress the person is in.
CongruenceWhen we are listening to others, we need to be transparent to them. We cannot pretend to have a good attitude or positive regard if we do not, in fact, feel these things. People will not open up to active listening unless they feel as though you are being honest both with yourself and with them.
CongruenceIn order to have a genuine positive attitude toward others, we have to think through who we believe other people to be. When we feel judgment toward others, where does that judgment come from? When we dislike someone, what is going on? These are barriers which can possibly be removed just through thinking about these things.Also, when we are in distress, how do we
Active Listening: How?First, active listening means turning off the voice inside that wants to argue, advise, and otherwise think of a response instead of focusing on what the other person is saying.
Active Listening: How?Active listening involves encouragement (which communicates unconditional positive regard, etc.).Body language: total focus on the other person (no distractions such as cell phones). Sit at a 90 degree angle from the person instead of directly in front.Verbal: "Mmm, hmm..." "Id like to hear more about..."
Active Listening: ReflectYou can paraphrase or summarize what the other person has said.The art of reflecting lies in being able to paraphrase without coming off as being patronizing. Its a combination of body language, tone of voice, and choosing words carefully.
Active Listening: ClarificationCheck your understanding. Paraphrase or summarize what you have heard, and then ask if you are understanding correctly.If you are not understanding, in the mind of the person doing the talking, then do some more listening until you can reflect back what the other person is saying in an accurate way.
Active Listening: ProbingYou can ask for more information to help you understand."Help me understand this...what happened when....?"
Active Listening: Body LanguageCheck for the other persons body language. This can include posture; when people cross their arms in front of themselves, they may be feeling defensive. Their voices may tremble if they are feeling upset or scared.There may be differences between what one is saying and ones body language. This is a situation where you can probe to find out what is going on.
Active Listening:Two things to avoidAdvice: unconditional positive regard suggests that you believe the person is capable of figuring out a good solution and wont need unsolicited advice.Also, advice, given too early, is likely not to work since you may not understand the entire scope of the problem.
Active Listening: Two things to avoidStorytelling: dont tell your own story. That takes the focus away from the person you are listening to.