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An open lesson on Active listening
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In fiction, Jedi were widely respected as diplomats, counselors, and mediators. In real life, it can be difficult to get people to open up to advice and assistance offered because people have trouble believing that we will understand them and their needs, or they have other barriers to communicating openly with others. Often times in life it is easy to feel like the other person isn't really listening either due to interruptions, feigned interest, general feelings of invalidation, and a number of other factors experienced in the past.

Over the years, I have worked as a customer service professional and learned a few skills that I have found to be useful when offering aid in peoples problems. Of them, I have found that the best place to start (even just in every-day communication, having nothing to do with counseling, mediation, or tackling issues) is by practicing a skill known as active listening.

Here's my experience of how it's done:

Steps

1: Listen to what they have to say, and don't interrupt.


I've often heard it said that we learn best with our mouths closed, as when we are talking, we can only repeat back what we know. By all means, ask for clarification as necessary to get a good understanding of what is being communicated to you, just remember to wait for an appropriate pause point in the conversation.

2: To ensure that you do have a good understanding of what was communicated to you, repeat back what you believe you have been told in your own words.

3: Express an empathetic understanding of any emotions they expressed regarding what you were told as they were communicating it with you, and ensure that you aren't putting feelings or words of your own into it.

If they don't express that they were frustrated by x, y, or z thing, it wouldn't be appropriate to say something along the lines of "I can see how (insert scenario here) would be frustrating for you."

The reason you want to reflect back an understanding of the expressed emotion accurately, and not project unexpressed emotions on them, is because it tends to lead to them feeling unheard, becoming frustrated or angry, and then close themselves off.

When you both agree that you have a good understanding of not only what the underlying facts of what the issue is, but also how it is impacting the person you are working with, only then can you be sure that you are both on the same page and will be able to effectively assist the person(s) in finding a resolution to the issue(s).

4: Express a commitment to finding a resolution to the issue that was presented to you, and follow through on it.

This will solidify your role in the eyes of the person you're assisting, gain their trust and faith in your genuine desire to help, and they will be more likely to allow you to assist them in reaching a resolution even if it means that they will have to compromise a little or if the resolution to the issue is not 100% what they wanted.

Here's a video talking about the topic, as well as a link to it's accompanying article:



Click here for the article.

Assignment:

Please watch the above video, and read the accompanying article.

Practice these skills over the period of a week (and hopefully the rest of your life as well), take notes on what happened, how things went, and any differences in the way people responded to you from before you started using these skills vs. after.

Post an entry here (and in your journals) about your findings, try to be as detailed as possible but concise.

Posted on: 2017/1/13 17:42
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Re: An open lesson on Active listening
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Great post Master Ace. Active listening is very important in good communications.

Posted on: 2017/1/14 11:47
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Re: An open lesson on Active listening
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This has been such an interesting lesson. It's also surprisingly hard to remember to do, but hopefully I can make it into a habit.

What I've noticed is that I'm beginning to listen wholly or completely to the other person, as opposed to what I'm pretty sure I had been doing - listening to only as much as I thought I needed to understand what the other person was saying and either projecting or assuming the rest, which isn't terribly nice. It's making me slow down more, too, and actually hear what the other person is saying and meaning. I'm trying to get my facial expressions more neutral and open as well, but that seems a bit trickier, lol.

Thanks for sharing the lesson, Master Ace!

Posted on: 2017/1/23 14:36
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Re: An open lesson on Active listening
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And I just remembered that I forgot to include the biggest thing I learned in doing this - I often "hear" people incorrectly. I hear things as accusatory or negative when a lot of the time, they're completely neutral, ambiguous, or even positive. Go figure, lol.

Posted on: 2017/1/24 23:55
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Re: An open lesson on Active listening
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I'm glad to see that you're recognizing patterns within yourself regarding your ability to really hear people Amara! It's fascinating to see just how much some of our own underlying thoughts and self talk really do color the world we perceive.

Active listening can give us more tools to use to analyse not only what is really being said to us, but another angle we can see ourselves from in the metaphorical mirror that is other people.

When we notice that we are incorrect, it presents us a great opportunity to adjust our perspective. Internally, and otherwise.

Good work so far Amara!

Posted on: 2017/1/25 0:15
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Re: An open lesson on Active listening
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Indeed, we don't see things as they are we see things as we are.

Posted on: 2017/1/25 22:58
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