The Value of Listening – WOMEN in RECOVERY

We need to take time to deposit value in their hearts…

It’s easy to get busy in life trying to do everything at once. You can listen and work at the same time, but sometimes ‘multi-tasking’ is not the best use of our time. Sometimes we have to STOP, look people in the eyes and give them the Gift of Listening. We need to support one another, and listening is an amazing way of doing just that.

As you go about your day, remind yourself to give people the Gift of Listening. It seems like such a little thing, but those little deposits will eventually make a big difference, and that is what pleases the Heart of God.

Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, to confirm what they have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.
The ability to listen actively demonstrates sincerity, and that nothing is being assumed or taken for granted. Active listening is most often used to improve personal relationships, reduce misunderstanding and conflicts, strengthen cooperation, and foster understanding. It is proactive, accountable and professional.

When interacting, people often “wait to speak” rather than listening attentively. They might also be distracted. Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others, focusing attention on the “function” of communicating objectively as opposed to focussing on “forms”, passive expression or subjectivity.

There are many opinions on what is “active listening”. A search of the term reveals interpretations of the “activity” as including “interpreting body language” or focusing on something other than or in addition to words. Successful communication is the establishment of common ground between two people—understanding.

Agreeing to disagree is common ground. Common ground can be false, i.e., a person says they feel a certain way but they do not. Nevertheless it is common ground, once accepted as understood. Dialogue, understanding and progress can only arise from that common ground. And that common ground cannot be established without respect for the words as spoken by the speaker, for whatever reason.

Thus the essence of active listening is as simple as it is effective: paraphrasing the speakers words back to them as a question. There is little room for assumption or interpretation. It is functional, mechanical and leaves little doubt as to what is meant by what is said. “The process is successful if the person receiving the information gives feedback which shows understanding for meaning.

Suspending one’s own frame of reference, suspending judgment and avoiding other internal mental activities are important to fully attend to the speaker.

Comprehending

Comprehension is “shared meaning between parties in a communication transaction”. This is the first step in the listening process. The first challenge for the listener is accurately identifying speech sounds and understanding and synthesizing these sounds as words. We are constantly bombarded with auditory stimuli, so the listener has to select which of those stimuli are speech sounds and choose to pay attention to the appropriate sounds (attending). The second challenge is being able to discern breaks between discern-able words, or speech segmentation. This becomes significantly more difficult with an unfamiliar language because the speech sounds blend together into a continuous jumble. Determining the context and meanings of each word is essential to comprehending a sentence.

On that note, if you do not understand what you are ‘hearing’, take to time to ask for a full explanation, opening your heart to actually hearing what is being said. Take Action as true communication will lift your levels of comprehension and make your life so much easier, allowing you to know the facts.

Here are 10 tips:

1. Stay present – Don’t let your mind wander. Many are composing a response before the speaker has a chance to completely finish his/her thought.
2. Make eye contact – Let the speaker see your interest by regularly making eye contact.
3. Ask questions for clarification – This is not your time to respond. Get really clear about what is being said. If you don’t understand, ask questions in an open non-charged manner.
4. Acknowledge feelings – If the speaker is telling you something about his/her feelings, acknowledge them. You don’t have to agree to show
that you see the speaker is upset or happy about something.
5. Restate or paraphrase – Make sure you are getting the information the speaker is presenting by periodically repeating what you hear in
different words the speakers. “Let me see if I’ve got it so far?”
6. Seek first to understand and then to be understood – Before you state your thoughts and ideas make sure you totally understand and acknowledge the speakers thoughts.
7. Give nonverbal feedback – While the speaker is speaking, be sure to smile, nod, frown, shrug your shoulders, or raise your eyebrows – whatever is appropriate.
8. Silence – Don’t be afraid of this. Periods of total quiet will allow you and the speaker to think about what was said. When you are sure the speaker has completed his/her thoughts on the subject it will be time for you to comment.
9. Take in all the information both verbal and nonverbal – Focus on the meaning of what is being said and also what is not being said.
10. Get permission – Sometimes people just want to be heard. At other times they are seeking advice. Give advice only when requested and only after the person has had a chance to give you the whole story. If you are not sure, ask if the person is looking for your input.

When you make deposits in people, you are making deposits into eternity…

Speak Your Mind

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