Indeed, listening is the other half of communication. Most people's thoughts of communication are the speaker's ability to convey information effectively. What many of us forget is that without a listener, the speaker would just be talking to the wind. Effective speaking is an acquired skill, and so is good listening. Some people are better listeners than others, but everyone can benefit by enriching their listening skills.
Let us consider what takes place when someone talks, it seems obvious tat the listener should have effective skills. Many things could be taking place: observation of the other person's appearance, activity taking place in the background, thoughts about what had taken place during the listener's day, another conversation during the day, or planning a response to something that has already been verbalized. By listening effectively, the listener ensures that the speaker knows he cares, that he is interested in what the speaker is saying, and that help is available.
When most people receive initial training in hypnosis, they are given scripts for smoking, for weigh loss, for stress relief, etc., and begin to focus their attention on the right words to say. The topic of listening is not typically addressed a great deal. However, by listening more effectively, the hypnotherapist can use the utilization approach to hypnosis, and succeed in formulating very appealing suggestions for heir client. With more effective listening, the hypnotherapist can individualize treatment and assist the client more effectively.
The first step in developing good listening skills is to become aware of why listening is important in your professional life and personal relationships. The second step is to practice using listening skills.
GUIDELINES FOR GOOD LISTENING:
Never interrupt when the other person is speaking. Allow the speaker to
complete their thought.
Maintain eye contact with the speaker, without staring at them.
Show interest by pulling your chair closer and leaning forward.
Keep your posture open by facing the speaker and leave your arms and legs uncrossed.
Give verbal and nonverbal responses to what the speaker is saying.
Listening is a skill that improves with practice, but common obstacles to good listening can impede our progress. It seems obvious that having a television on during a conversation would be a distraction and an obstacle to good listening, but our own attitudes and personality traits may become an obstacle to listening. We must take an honest look at ourselves, and how we deal with the world, to remove these types of obstacles. People, who tend to be mistrustful, or take a combative stance toward others, may find it difficult to engage in healthy and open listening. The same is true for people who get gratification from pleasing others, an d other forms of dependency -- it becomes hard to truly hear what people are trying to say, when a person will hear only what he needs to hear.
COMMON OBSTACLES TO LISTENING:
Being Judgmental: You listen only to gain support for the negative image you already have.
Rehearsing: You actively create your argument against the speaker's point of view as it is being presented.
Mind Reading: You may disregard what the speaker is saying and try to surmise what they really mean.
Advising: Giving advice instead of just listening to make yourself feel needed, or it may be a way of distancing yourself from the speaker's true feelings.
Pleasing: You are so concerned about being nice, and placating that you will interrupt to agree just to maintain peacefulness, but it prevents you from hearing what the speaker needs to say.
Filtering: You will hear some things the speaker talks about, but not everything.
Deflecting: You redirect by changing the subject or telling a joke when the topic is uncomfortable for you.
Listening is more than passively being quiet while the speaker talks. It is half of an active collaborative method of communication. The first level is attentive listening. For this type of listening, we convey what we are genuinely interested in the speaker's point of view and what he has to say. The second level of listening is active listening. This type of listening assumes that communication is a two-way process, which involves giving feedback, or reflecting the speaker. Active listening requires that the listener paraphrase, clarify, and give feedback.
Paraphrasing is a vital component of active listening. By restating, in your own words, what the speaker has said you are able to correct misconceptions as they occur, and overcome the obstacles to listening. The speaker feels that they have been heard and are understood.
Clarifying provides more depth to the listening process than using paraphrasing exclusively. The purpose of clarifying is to ask questions about what the speaker is saying in an empathic and helpful way. Clarifying tells the speaker that you are really interested, and want to know more about specific areas.
Giving feedback involves providing your own thoughts on what the speaker has said, while avoiding the obstacles to good listening. This gives the speaker another opportunity to see if you understand him. When we listen well to the speaker we not only show that person caring and respect, but we also show that we are open to the world around us.
LISTENING TO CHILDREN
The years of childhood is when a child will develop a level of self-esteem that may be with them throughout their lifetime and a child who has been listened to is much more likely to develop a positive self-image than one who has not been heard. Listening to children gives them the feeling that they count, they matter, children need to be heard.
Use the following listening techniques to address the special needs of children:
Pay special attention as they talk. Maintain good eye contact and eliminate
distractions. Children can tell by an adult's reply whether or not they have the attention of the adult.
Listen with patience. Listen as if you have plenty of time. A child's vocabulary is often limited; it may take them longer to express their ideas. Children sometimes needs encouragement to talk. Children can be inexperienced in the art of conversation, so the adult will have to ask some questions. A child is more willing to open up when he feels that an adult is attentive. Listen to the child's nonverbal messages. Children communicate not only through words, but also through their body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, energy levels and changes in behavior. Pay attention to the cues and respond in the way that is best for the child. Know when to and when not to use active listening. Pay attention to the child's mood, and be sure the time and setting is right for the child to talk. Some times a child just wants to play of to be left alone. Being playful with a child who wishes to play may also encourage them to open up.