Instead of This…

Active Listening - Fail

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How to Listen

Show through your body, tone, and words that you are engaged and that you have genuine interest in what the other person is saying.

STEP 1:  In your own words and without making any personal judgment, summarize information that they shared:

  •             “Hmmm…the test didn’t go very well for you.”
  •             “It’s really dark in your room at night.”
  •             “Sounds like you two had a disagreement.”


STEP 2:  Look for the feelings and link feelings to content:

  •             “It’s discouraging when you see that grade.”
  •             “That must feel awful fighting with your friend.”
  •             “That can feel scary when you are alone in the dark.”


Tip:  Depending on the personality of the person you are dealing with, it may help to make your statements tentative…

  •             “ Sounds like you’re feeling…about…” or  “I imagine it must feel…


At this point, the talker will either correct your tentative statement or go into more depth as you continue to be a mirror for them.  At some point, you will most likely get a verbal or visual cue, like a big sigh, or tears, or the time tested unfurrowing of the brows, when the person lets you know that they have “let out” the thing that was eating them alive inside.  At that point, and ONLY then, you may go to step 3.

STEP 3:  Gently offer encouragement or help brainstorm solutions if appropriate.

  •             “I wonder what you could do to bring up your score next time?”
  •             “What would help you feel safe and brave at night?”
  •             “I believe in you.  I can see you will work this out.”
  •             “What are you going to do about it?”
  •             “I know by the way I have seen you overcome in the past, that you can get through this.
  •             “Is there something I can do to help?”


Try This…

Active Listening - Pass

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To read more about listening, click here.