Susan Hansen, Extension Educator Colfax County
The flooding that is occurring throughout the
One of the best ways of helping is to listen.
Effective listening means really understanding what the other person is saying to you.
Several barriers to good listening exist. These barriers are:
1) Listening with only “Half an ear”
2) Acting as the judge and jury.
3) Tuning out the speaker.
4) Turning off ideas you don’t agree with.
5) Jumping to conclusions.
Listening involves entering into the other person’s frame of reference. The listener should not get caught up in his or her own assumptions.
The listener should avoid giving judgmental statements. Statements such as, “That was a stupid thing to do.” or “You shouldn’t feel that way” do not help the person with the concern or problem. In fact, the person may become less likely to talk about his or her problem.
Active listening encourages the other person to talk or continue talking. It helps you establish a helping relationship, gain information and understand what the other person is experiencing. It fosters a trusting relationship. Active listening helps the other person to feel accepted and understood.
There are several ways to demonstrate that you are actively listening.
Saying “mmhm” or nodding are simple ways of letting the talker know you’re listening.
Focus your attention on the speaker by looking him or her in the eye.
Lean forward. This body gesture says “I’m interested.”
Silence can be a powerful way to communicate acceptance and encouragement. It can say, “You are important to me. I’m willing to wait as you gather your thoughts.” Listeners communicate impatience when they interrupt, do too much prodding, or finish other’s sentences when they falter.
Without interrupting, paraphrase and restate what has been said, if you have misunderstood, the speaker can give more correct information.
Without interrupting, respond to or give a name to the feelings you, as the listener, hear in what the other person says or does. This not only furthers the conversation, but gives the listener insight into emotional issues that might be hiding behind words. Statements such as, “It sounds like you are angry” or “Are you saddened by what happened?” may be helpful.
Active listening is helpful in our day to day life as well as when we experience a crisis. It takes practice to be a good active listener.
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