During college I roomed with a few guys and one of them was a firefighter. I remember one night he asked if I could help him clean out his ears by pouring some Peroxide in them….with a little hesitation I agreed and what I then witnessed was by far the most disgusting version of a kids science fair Volcano eruption coming out of his ears. It was black, bubbly and gross. When we were done I remember the relief he felt and he even said he could hear and listen better. He told me it felt like he had ear plugs in and had just taken them out.
I know, I know, I know… some of you have tuned out, but stay with me here…
Everyday I have couples, parents/children, and people in many types of relationships (in laws, siblings, coworker, etc) share with me that they just don’t feel like the person they are in relationship is listening to them when they talk. I’ve written about this problem in the past, but I want to key in on one tool that will help to change the frustration that can come when communicating with others. The frustration that comes when a simple conversation quickly escalates to a full blown, name calling, gloves off, curse word filled yelling match. In these moments the person we usually “love” has long jumped over the line to create emotional hurt. Then we engage in the word battle with our own piercing, hurtful and vengeful words.
These people ask me everyday… “How do we stop”? “Do we just give up on the relationship?” “Help!”. A lot of these people have given up, but they have come to the right place for healing and to learn some great tools to help with the constant arguing and fighting.
Let’s face it we ALL will have verbal arguments with those we are in relationship with. It’s how we communicate through it that can lead to a positive or negative ending.
Active listening is a simple tool. It’s a tool we learn first in the Counseling world. It is something that ALL Counselors and Therapists are taught as a tool to help others and a quick way to establish trust and show others that we care and that we are listening. So how does it work… Well basically it is a way to listen and to reply using a “mirrored” response. This response shows the person we are listening to that we are actually listening to him/her.
It looks as simple as this…
Wife: I really need to talk with you about Molly’s grades, I’m really concerned about them.
Husband: So you are pretty concerned with Molly’s grades? What do you think we should do?
Wife: I think we should both be helping her with her homework and staying on her about studying everyday. If she doesn’t do it there should be a punishment.
Husband: I agree we can help her more by checking to make sure she has studied and be available to help her with her homework. As far as a punishment what were you thinking?
Here is a good worksheet that can help you with Active Listening:
Asking For Change
1. I Feel _____________________________________________,
2. When you _________________________________________.
3. Can you please ______________________________________,
4. and then I can/We can _________________________________.
1. You Sound _________________________________________,
2. that/because ________________________________________.
3. Next time I will ______________________________________,
4. and I _____________________________________________.
If you begin to use “Active Listening” in your conversations with others, you are sure to communicate in more positive, patient, direct and clear way.
You just might find yourself in more meaningful and productive conversations. Try it today!👂
If you or someone you know is in need of some extra help through therapy please feel free to contact me directly. travis@travisdalecounseling
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