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active listening

Please Listen To Me

good_listeningPlease listen to me so that you can tell me what I said.  Don’t make it a waste of my breath to talk to you.  Sometimes a conversation becomes a competition to see who can dominate  it and at the same time no one really is listening to the other.  You are trying to tell someone something and they are too busy thinking of what to say next to listen.

Why do we talk to others  Is it to learn something new or to convince someone else to accept our values or to take our point of view.  If you are not open to changing your mind or rethinking a position that you have taken then why do you think that other people would be that way?

Have you ever gotten involved in a conversation that has turned into a yelling match?  What do you think that you or the other people you are talking “at”  are accomplishing ?  Yes, it is nice to get something off your chest; but what if it doesn’t really solve anything?

Sometimes therapy is the only place where someone really listens to you; but then I (and probably you) have heard of stories where the therapist fell asleep during a session while supposedly listening to their patient.


activelistening-glych1 (Photo credit: stallio)

Therapy involves “active listening” where the therapist repeats what the client has said in his or her own words to be sure that he or she has gotten correct what the other person has been trying to say.  Then the therapist might make an interpretation of what the client is actually probably doing or make a suggestion as to what the client might do about the problem they have just related to the therapist.

Debating is an activity that promotes active listening and the ability to see the other side of issues.  Critical thinking is encouraged and people are forced to be able to take both sides of an issue.  We are not always able to see the other person’s point of view.  In a society that promotes individual differences, we often get caught up in defending our right to have our own preferences and ignoring the right of others to have theirs.

Think for yourself, but give others that right too.


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From Their Side From Our Side

Starting in the 1950s Carl Rogers brought Pers...
Starting in the 1950s Carl Rogers brought Person-centered psychotherapy into mainstream focus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are an opinionated country.  Everybody has something to say about everything especially now with the social network sites.  We get so caught up in how we see an issue or behavior that we are literally blind to how the other person might see them.

I hope you believe that everybody is entitled to their own opinion; however, it is difficult to do when it involves a life or death question.  We often (when we have a conversation or interaction with others) spend more time thinking about we are going to say than hearing what the other person has to say and/or acknowledging it.

Active listening is one way to be sure we understand what the other person is saying.  (See the work of psychologist, Carl Rogers.)  We listen and then paraphrase what the other person has said.  At the same tine checking with them to see if we got the information right.

It is important in such conflicts to be assertive rather than aggressive.  It helps if you agree that a person has a right to their opinion.  You might say, “I can see where you might think I am being aggressive because of the tone of voice that you thought that I used.

Finally, a disagreement might be at least partly due to a lack of knowledge of what information the person used to come to their conclusion.  There are two sides to every issue.  That’s what debates are based on.  People can get so worked up about an issue that they jump to conclusions and leave no room for the other person to communicate what actually happened.

One way that a person might realize this is when they meet a person who represents the very thing they have condemned and gets to know them before they find out they are supposedly on opposite sides.  Such a person might be a Muslim or illegal alien or a conservative politician or stay at home mom; but the person with the stereotype doesn’t know this when he or she first meets them.


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Other People’s Quirks

The logo of Quirks and Quarks.

The logo of Quirks and Quarks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How come other people have quirks and we don’t or are we fooling ourselves?  Does what other people do sometimes not make sense and we can’t understand why they continue to do something which to us doesn’t seem to work.

It is very difficult to change human behavior especially since we usually focus on changing other people’s behavior, not our own.  What someone else does, which seems ignorant to us, often does not make them uncomfortable so why do they need to change even if we would like them to.

Change can be difficult because if you knew how to do it, you probably would have done it long ago.  Sometimes we know how to do it, but we don’t want to do it.  There is something we don’t like about doing it.  Think of all the New Year’s resolutions that get broken.

Thus we might have quirks of our own, behaviors that we can’t or won’t change, that annoy others.  We can learn to accept other people’s quirks and live with them or we can cut bait and go fish somewhere else.  This often happens after many attempts to communicate that something isn’t working and possibly not being heard.  Most people don’t practice active listening.
They are too busy thinking of what they want to say in response to what you said that they are unable to tell you what you actually said versus what they think you said.

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Here I Am, Send Me, Send Me

Send It On (song)

Send It On (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you give of yourself, you give the best thing you can give.  Your time is worth a lot more than your money.  Children know this, parents know this, significant others know this.  Also those without family members who can come and see them and take them places know this.

Be fully present when you are present.  It does not count when you are multitasking at the same time.  When I have your attention, I want to have your full attention.  When you listen to me, listen to me.  When you are watching me, watch me.  Don’t be thinking about what you are going to say or do next.  We all want to be heard and seen.  Doing the former is sometimes called active listening.  Can you truthfully say that when you are having a conversation with someone, that you know what they are saying?  Can you repeat what was said to you?  You don’t have to agree with me, but at least be able to tell me what I have told you.

I am your friend; I am your family, or you may know about me because you have been touched by my plight.  Put yourself in my place.  Visit me.  Don’t forget that I exist.  Yes, you may have to go out of your way to do this.  Think of me often.  Remember you are in my thoughts too.  You may not know of the extent of the impact that you have on another when you give of yourself.or pay it forward.  Do something nice for someone you don’t know.  A waitress where I went this week, told me that a couple that comes to the restaurant that she works at often chooses another table in the restaurant and pays for their meal; thus they pay it forward.

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