Listening Skills

This group of skills helps the listener to keep the focus on what the speaker is communicating.

a) Door Openers/ Encourages

 

  • Encouragers are to creative an invitation to talk. Questions that help you show we are genuinely interested: Who, When, Where, Why, How?
  • Are used to encourage someone to begin to talk or to continue talking.

Examples:

i. “Care to talk about it?”

ii. “Please go on.”

iii. “Tell me more.”

iv. “What was that like (for you)?”

v. And my all-time favourite, “How did that make you feel?” <–stereotypical

Remember, it is difficult to offer a door opener, not to be takenn up on it, and subsequently let it go without taking the dismissal personally. Rememeber it takes time to build trust and one must respect the other person’s privacy.

b) Minimal Encourages

1. Brief indications to the speaker that you are listening.

2. Give little direction to the conversation.

3. Examples:

> > “Mm-hmm”, “Go on” “I see”, “Then?” “Yes” “Darn!”

4. You can also encourage the speaker by repeating one or two of his key words.

c) Infrequent Questions

 

  • Ask only 1 question at a time.
  • Be Mindful of the number of questions that help show interest. Try not to do too many who, when, where, what, why, how..

There are two types of questions:

Closed Questions: These direct the speaker to give a specific, short response.

“Did you have a good holiday?”

Open Question

These allow the speaker to chose the direction of the Conversation and explore his thoughts:

“Tell me about your holiday.”

“What was that like for you?”

“Let’s talk about that a little more.”

“How did that happen?”
d) Attentive Silence

 

  • Allows the speaker to think about what he is going to say and to proceed at their own pace.
  • Silence is a reflection of intimacy.
  • If you feel uncomfortable with silence, rather than shatter it with questions, advice, etc. Use the time to:
  • Observe the speaker’s body language.
  • Silently review what the speaker has said,
  • Wonder what the speaker is feeling,
  • And consider possible listening responses.

e) Paraphrasing and Reflecting Back

Restating in your own words what the other person has said, For example:

  • “You’re suggesting that…”
  • “Let me se if I’ve understood. You feel…”
  • ” You think…is that correct?”
  • “So you believe that…”
  • “Do you mean that..?”

 

Discourages (What not to do)

a) Most Discouraging

 

  • Threatening or punishing responses – “Smarten up or else.”
  • Ridiculing/ Belittling, “That’s just plain dumb.”
  • Denying or Contradicting “You’re wrong.”
  • Minimizing “is that what you are worried about? I wish that was all I had on my plate!”
  • Sarcastic Responses “Now that’s a real problem.”
  • Arguing for your Own Point “Well your wrong and I’ll prove it..”

b) Sometimes Discouraging

 

  • Advice – Giving before listening “Here is what you should do..”
  • Persuasion against their will “You can do it if you try.”
  • Interpreting “I know what you are thinking..”
  • Jumping to Conclusions “if you don’t like them you should just leave.”

c) Actions that Discourage

 

  • Interrupting in mid-sentence
  • Looking away, shuffling paper on desk
  • Crossing arms, yawning, shaking your head, rolling your eyes.
  • Continuing on with another task when someone is talking
  • Moodiness/ negative tone/ abruptness etc.

Door Closers (Road Blocks- DON’T Do these)

a) Judgemental Statements:

“What a sourpuss you are today.”

“What did you do, lose your best friend?”

b) Attempts to Reassure

“Cheer up!”

“Things will get better. They always do.”

c) Advice Giving:

“Don’t ruin your day.”

“Forget about it.”

 

 

 

Reference: OTMH, third line, Oakville, ON

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