Saturday, April 26, 2008


I Don't Have To Make Everything All Better
The Art of Listening

Q. How can I offer social support without taking on the burden of other peoples problems?
A. Active Listening- This means I don't have to fix it, just feel. I do not have to solve the problem necessarily, just validate and dignify the feelings and experiences of others. (i.e. "That must be hard"!) I can offer emotional support and encouragement while leaving the responsibility where it belongs. No one is more capable of solving our problems than those who understand it best, ourselves. We just need to know that we are not alone.Listening seems simple enough but it is an acquired skill and takes practice. Listening is an Art. Feel with me. It's healing to cry together. "Mourn with those that mourn" - Jesus
* * *

Acknowledge feelings: mad, sad, glad, or afraid. Paraphrase, summarize and ask questions. Body Language, show interest, keep them talking. Active listening is an effective service we can do every day. Sigmund Freud use to exhaust himself trying to help his clients, and solve their problems. Finally he gave up, zipped it up and just listened to people talk. He discovered that the more people talk the more they are able to resolve their own psychosis and get things in perspective. He encouraged them to keep talking through active listening skills, asking them open ended questions such as :“how does that make you feel”? “Tell me more about . . .”
Advice can sound critical because it may way oversimplify complex experiences. If we must we can express our concerns in the form of a question so that it does not sound presumptuous, judgmental and alienating. But that can wait for the right teaching moment and another conversation entirely. For now build relationships, give the gift of time, and just listen.
* * *
SO, WHAT YOUR SAYING IS . . . We do not have to agree (“yes”, “uhuh”), Only observe (“hmmm”, “oh”, “ah”), ask open ended questions, use validating phrases and paraphrase. Find ways to relate.

OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS- Oh?I hear you saying . . .So what you're saying is . . . is that correct?What does that mean?How did you feel about that?What did you do?And then what did you do?What would you like to do?When do you think it could be done?What do you think the outcome will be?What do you think might work?What do you think would work next time?Are there other options?What happened?How did it happen?Where did it happen?When did it happen?What did you think?How could you stand it?How did you stand that?And then what did you say?What do you think caused the problem?What’s wrong?What went wrong?What was that like?Did you enjoy that?Did that hurt your feelings?

VALIDATING PHRASES- OhI’ll bet that’s hard, That would hurt, I think I might have felt the same way, That must be frustrating, I’m so sorry that happened to you, Wow!, That’s interesting, What a difficult position to be in, That’s awful!, I don’t blame you one bit., That’s wonderful!, That was good., I’m happy along with you., I’m happy for you. I’m sad with you. That’s painful, I’ll bet that was difficult, I feel like crying, too. What an awkward situation to be in, That was amazing, I’ll bet that was fun, That’s neat, I’ll bet you’ll miss him, I would have been embarrassed too, That’s exciting, I never thought of that, What a good idea, What a good way to handle that situation, That just might be the best solution, Well, if that doesn’t beat all, Oh, my goodness., Oh, no! , I know how much that meant to you., That’s a tough spot to be in. That’s a real bummer, That’s got to be a real challenge, Tell me more.. OUR BIGGEST VICE IS ADVICE

PARADIGM- Seek first to understand Then to be understood ~ Stephen R. Covey

Do not let our certainty be a mask for insensitivity. We are keenly aware of our own weaknesses or others perception of them. We do not need to be reminded. To actually feel with others can be cathartic for us also.

No comments: