Good Listening Skills; A Critical Key To Success

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Consistently successful people have good listening skills. They intuitively know how to close a deal in sales, keep friendships and settle family disputes.  Some people are naturally skilled listeners but everyone can improve by understanding the dynamics of good listening and practice.  There are four types of listening tools.  They are Repeat, Rephrase, Paraphrase and Emotional Reflection. 

In using the first tool Repeat, you add nothing to content of what was spoken but you simply restate it back using some or all of the same words. For example: 

 Statement:  “My teacher makes me so mad.”      

Response: “You are mad at your teacher.”

When using the 2nd tool Rephrase, you reflect back what the speaker said by slightly rephrasing their statement by substituting a different synonym.  You are saying the same thing but in a slightly different way.

For example:      

Statement:  “My teacher makes me so mad.”      

Response: “You are very upset with your teacher.”

When using the 3rd tool Paraphrase, you reflect back what has been said in a shortened manner mentioning the keys points.

For example:      

Statement: “I am so mad at my teacher.  She never explains the assignments, she gives us too much homework and she never lets us out on time for recess.”      

Response:  “You don’t like it when your teacher doesn’t explaining things, gives too much homework and does let you out for recess.

The last tool is called Emotional Reflection and it is regarded as the deepest forms of listening. It uses a combination of the other listening tools but you add to your response an understanding of the emotion behind what the speaker is saying.

For example:      

Statement:  “I am so mad at my teacher.  She never explains the assignments, she gives us too much homework and she never lets us out on time for recess.”      

Response: “You are really frustrated with your teacher and feel like she isn’t helping your learn what you need to know this year.” If you have correctly identified the emotion underneath the statement the person talking to you will not be able to stop a quick smile from breaking across their face.  Their head will not and they will say, “Yes!” because it feels so good to have someone truly listen to you with understanding. If you don’t make the correct interpretation and the speaker feels like you made a good faith attempt to listen, they won’t be angry with you for trying but they will simply correct you and give you a second chance.

For example:      

Statement:  “No, I am not frustrated! I am mad!”      

Response:  “I see you are beyond frustrated, you are MAD!” At this point, you will likely get a head nod, and the response, “Yes, I am mad.” Some people have a difficult time with reflective listening because they are uncomfortable validating feelings.  They feel awkward because they believe if they acknowledge the feeling then they have responsibility to solve the situation which created the feeling. However the opposite is true.  If someone is empathetically listened to the intense negative feelings are often dissipate and positive feelings are reinforced.

Thomas Gordon wrote a groundbreaking book in the 1970’s called P.E.T Parent Effective Training the New Way to Raise Responsible Children. It is a book I highly recommend. In his book Gordon identified 12 Roadblocks to communication. We all do some of these things but if you are stuck in a negative relationship as a parent, boss or with an intimate partner check over his list to see what roadblock you may be over using.

Thomas Gordon’s Roadblocks to Communication

  • Ordering, directing or commanding
  • Warning or threatening
  • Giving advice, making suggestions or providing solutions
  • Persuading with logic, arguing or lecturing
  • Moralizing, preaching, or telling people what they “should” do
  • Disagreeing, judging, criticizing or blaming
  • Agreeing, approving or praising
  • Shaming, ridiculing or labeling
  • Interpreting or analyzing
  • Reassuring, sympathizing or consoling
  • Questioning or probing
  • Withdrawing, distracting, humoring or changing the subject

Listening well to our family and friends is the kindest and most compassionate response.  We would all do well to frequently work on our listening skills and keep practicing!

Camille Curtis Foster MSW, LCSW

Contact Me / 801.472.7134/ Like my Facebook page:

Another great source is Jackie Edwards relating to the world of management and business. Here are some of her key points:

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 7.55.21 AMMaking Communication a Two Way Street by Jackie Edwards 

When it comes to resolving conflicts and improving the dynamics in a relationship, the word we hear more than any other is communication. And rightly so, one of the biggest keys to resolution is considering opposing points of view and finding a middle ground that is mutually acceptable to everybody.

If only it was that easy, though. The problem with communication is that there is a growing perception that being a good communicator means getting your point of view across in as clear, compelling and convincing a way as possible. When it comes down to it, people mistake communication with arguing their point of view.

Too often this makes communication a one way street – with plenty given out, but nobody willing or able to receive it. Here, we look to redress that balance by focusing on the forgotten side of the communication equation. By enhancing your listening skills, you can turn communication into a two way street, and genuinely become a better communicator. (to see more click here.)



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