Do You Communicate Effectively? Part 2
In part one we went over the seven blocks to listening. Realizing which of them we need to work on will help to enable better communication and we can move on to learning what effective listening entails.
Step one is Active Listening. This means that you need to actively participate in the communication process. You will need to show the speaker that you are fully engaged. How you do this requires an additional three steps within. First, paraphrasing is necessary to good listening by keeping you busy listening rather than your mind drifting off on other things. To do this, you will state in your own words what you think the speaker just said. You can lead into this by saying, “What I hear you saying is…” “In other words…” Paraphrasing should happen anytime someone states something of importance. The second step is clarifying and is extremely important because you want to make sure you fully understand what the speaker is saying. Clarifying helps you sharpen your listening focus so that you hear more than vague generalities. It means asking questions until you get more of the picture. Lastly, giving feedback helps by letting the other person in on how you were feeling during the conversation.
There are three rules to giving feedback as well:
- It needs to be immediate.
- It needs to be honest.
- It needs to be supportive.
Step two is Listening with Empathy. This can be very easy if you can just remember that everyone is just trying to survive both physically and emotionally. Some people may to do or say things to protect themselves. It may be hard to hear and hurt but if it’s done in a healthy way, it can work.
Ask yourself these questions if you are struggling with this:
- What need is the feeling (anger, sadness, fear) coming from?
- What danger is this person experiencing?
- What is he/she asking for?
Step three is Listening with Openness. Many people have trouble with this because there will be times when there is something being said that is hard to hear. We want to be right, we don’t want to know about how we have hurt someone else or that our favorite animal is not loved by all. The reason for this is that our opinions are closely tied to our self-esteem. Often times, when we are wrong, we feel that we are stupid, bad or worthless. The most important rule is to hear the whole statement before evaluating.
Step four is Listening with Awareness. In order to be aware while listening, there are two parts. One to compare what’s being said with what you know to be true based on history, people and facts. The important thing is you are to do this without judgment. Part two is to hear and observe congruence. You want to make sure that the non-verbal signs match the verbal communication. If they don’t match, it is your job to clarify with them and to give feedback.
Total listening has many cues one can look for to prove that there is listening going on. These are:
- Maintain good eye contact
- Lean slightly forward
- Reinforce the speaker by nodding or paraphrasing
- Clarify by asking questions
- Actively move away from distractions
- Be committed to understanding what was said even if you’re angry or upset.
Now that we have gone over how you listen and you are mastering this by practicing it with others around you, we are going to talk about expressions and how to be the speaker.