Active Listening 3
Abstract This paper explores the skills of active listening. The resources in this paper define active listening along with the advantages of having active listening skills from a clinical perspective and effective ways to communicate through encouraging, paraphrasing and summarizing. Other resources will define different barriers that hinder the ability to actively listen.
Lee and Hatesohl (2011) suggest for us to be effective communicators, it is necessary to become active listeners (abstract). Ivey, Ivey and Zalaquett (2010) suggest that to be an effective active listener, it will demand that the counselor participate fully by helping the client clarify, enlarge and enrich their story (p. 151). Nichols (2006) suggests that active listening is a major key to the development of establishing healthy relationships with not only others, but with ourselves (abstract).
According to Rogers and Farson (2006), they suggest that many people believe that active listening is a passive approach, but clinical and research evidence clearly shows that active listening is almost as an effective agent for individual personality change and group development (abstract). The Importance of Active Listening 70% of our time is spent communicating; at least half of all communication time is spent listening, according to Lee and Hatesohl (2006, abstract). Research by Lee and Hatesohl (2006) suggest that for us to be effective communicators, the counselor has to become active listeners.
This paper examines Lee and Hatesohl research concerning active listening (abstract). There are many people that may not have heard of the term Active Listening. Lee and Hatesohl (2006) suggest that active listening is a communication technique that is used to improve relationships by reducing conflicts, helping others find solutions to their problems, coaching, and opening lines of communication (abstract). Lee and Hatesohl (2006) suggest that active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others, while focusing attention fully on the speaker (abstract).
Being an active listener, shows interest and appreciation for the thoughts and concerns of the speaker. It shows commitment to them by letting them speak without interrupting. Active listening shows respect, support, and concern for the other person. Active listening promotes trust between the individual and the other person. The counselor and client relationship is enhanced when the client is listened to. Ivey, Ivey and Zalaquett (2010, p. 151) suggests when using the active listening technique, it’s important for the listener to observe the speaker’s behavior and body language.
Knowledge and understanding of how to read body language will allow the listener to correctly interpret and develop a more accurate understanding of the speaker’s message. Active listening can be hard to do and there need to be the intent to do it. The counselor must give the client their full concentration and undivided attention as when listening. Counselors need to understand the other person’s thoughts through their statements and actions. From a counseling perspective clients need to know that interviewers have heard what they are saying, (Ivey et al. , 2010). Ivey et al. s (2010) book suggests clients should feel the interviewer understands their story and their experiences (p. 152). Once that happens, most clients will become more open and acceptable to change (p. 152). Ivey et al. , 2010 also suggest that to be an effective active listener, it will demand that the counselor participate fully by helping the client clarify, enlarge and enrich their story (p. 149). This may not be easy to do. The counselor needs to give their full concentration and undivided attention as they listen. Counselors need to understand the other person’s thoughts through their statements and actions.
Ivey et al. , (2010) suggests the counselor do not just hear what the person says, but also see, feel, and imagine it (p. 150). This is done to be able unwrap and figure the message they are trying to tell. When listening, the counselor should be free of their own concerns and not be judgmental about what is being said. Advantages of Active Listening Being an active listener does not always require long sessions listening to issues and grievances. According to Rogers and Farson (2007), to be an effective active listener, the counselor must be firmly grounded in the basic attitudes of the client (abstract).
A counselor cannot employ the active listening techniques if their fundamental attitudes are in conflict with its basic concepts. The behaviors of the counselor must be empty and sterile; and their clients will recognize it. An advantage of being an active listener is that it brings change into the lives of the client. Rogers and Farson (2007) believes that many people believe that active listening is a passive approach, but clinical research evidence clearly shows that active listening is almost as an effective agent for individual personality change and group development (abstract). Ivey et al. (2010) goes one step further and suggest that active listening allows counselors to hear the subtle changes in a client’s thoughts, feelings and behavior; which in turn helps to better understand their problems and allows counselors to help them close the doors that are open in their lives (p. 164). Nichols (2006) suggests active listening is a major key to the development of establishing healthy relationships with not only others, but with ourselves (abstract) Nichols also suggest, when clients are listened to by others, they tend to be more receptive to evaluating and clarifying their own thoughts and feelings (abstract).
Noesner and Webster (2005) suggests that other advantages to using active listening, is a heightened awareness of client’s story and issues that are sensitive in nature to the client (abstract). Ivey et al. , (2010) suggest that as a counselor, there is clarity to the client’s statements, the ability to facilitate the clients talking in more detail about issues of concern and active listening helps the client organize the key aspects of their issues and concerns via periodic summarization (p. 151).
The New American Standard Bible states in James 1:19,”this you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. ” This shows that being an effective listener is a biblical principle. This is a command by God, to be quick to hear, before anything else. The same sensitivity that believers should have towards the voice of God is the same sensitivity that should be used when actively listening to a client. As counselors, we should wait patiently to hear what our clients are trying to tell us and then respond.
Encouraging, Paraphrasing and Summarizing Ivey et al. , (2010) suggests that encouraging, paraphrasing and summarizing, enables a counselor to effectively communicate to a client they have been heard (p. 151). When using these listening skills, it is important for the listener not to use their own bias and ideas when repeating back to the client what they have said. The listener should repeat the story back to the client using the client’s key words. By doing this, it helps the client by distilling, shortening and clarifying what has been said (p. 151).
Encouragers are a variety of verbal and non-verbal meanings that demonstrate that a counselor is listening attentively and are focused on the client’s words. Counselors can convey these qualities through their body language, brief verbal replies that show interest and concerns for the clients. The responses do not have to be lengthy by giving an occasional and well timed vocal replies, counselors show that they are following and interested in what their clients are saying. Smiling and interpersonal warmth are major encouragers that help clients feel comfortable and will keep them talking during an interview.
An example would be, yes, okay or I see, or an occasional head nod (Ivey et al. , 2010, p. 157). Paraphrasing consist of counselors repeating words to the clients that have already been spoken. This shows the client that the interviewer is not only listening, but is also showing what the client is also conveying. Paraphrasing is sometimes called the “reflection of content” (Ivey, et al. , 2010, p. 158). It is important for the listener to shorten and clarify the comments of the client, for example, the client may say “what’s the use in trying to go on anymore, I have lost my job, I have lost my wife and I have no money.
I would be better off dead. ” In response to that, the counselor/interviewer might express understanding by paraphrasing the client’s words. For example, “you’ve lost your job and your wife and there is no one to turn to, and you are not sure you want to keep on living. ” Summarization is similar to paraphrasing, but is used to clarify and distill what the client has said over a long span of time. Summarization maybe used to begin or end an interview, to move to a new topic or to clarify complex issues. It may help both client and therapist organize thinking about what is happening in the interview (Ivey et al. 2010, p. 159). Barriers of Active Listening Noesner and Webster (2005) suggest most people tend to judge, evaluate, approve and disapprove other’s statements (abstract). Although making evaluations or judgments is common in most conversations. These reactions become more heightened when there are feelings and emotions involved. In most incidents, when there are two different ideas that people feel strongly about, it is less likely that a mutual element cannot be found in the way they communicate. In other words, it will just become two ideas or two judgments passing each other in miscommunication space.
Listed below are barriers that cause people not to effectively listen: •Judging the message •Evaluating the message/name calling •Analyzing the message •Solving the message •Ignoring and redirecting the subject •Assumptions •Daydreaming The way to achieve true communication and effective active listening is to avoid being judge mental and opinionated when listening. It is important to listen with understanding this requires seeing the expressed idea and attitude from the other person’s point-of-view. This may seem very simple, but in many cases it is not.
Many researchers have found this to be the most effective way to alter a person’s basic personality structure and to improve the person’s relationship and communication with others. If listening to what a person is saying and really trying to understand how they feel, it will better help the client with their hatred and fears and establish more realistic and harmonious relationships with the people and situations that brought those emotions to the forefront. Discussion Although active listening is not an easy skill to learn, it is important to practice these skill and techniques even when not in a counseling/client scenario.
Rogers and Farson (2007) believes that many people believe that active listening is a passive approach (abstract). It is necessary to have a passive approach so that the client does not feel judged. Active listening requires time, patience, practice and more practice, but the skill can be achieved. It also requires that one may have to change our own basic attitudes, behaviors and biases. Ivey, Ivey and Zalaquett (2010, p. 149) suggests when using the active listening technique, it’s important for the listener to observe the speaker’s behavior and body language.
It is just as important to read the client’s non-verbal communication just as well as their verbal communication. What is not being said is just as critical in helping the clients close the door or their issues. Noesner and Webster (2005) suggest that our own bias and judgments hinders our ability to actively listen (abstract). This statement may be true, but the as counselors and using active listening, there must be a sense of sincerity, interest and commitment to the client. If the client recognizes a lack of sincerity in the interview, they may become either consciously or unconsciously disinterested and no longer express themselves.
The purpose of active listening is to bring about change in people. To achieve this change, it relies upon definite techniques and the element of personal risk. If as a counselor, they manage to accomplish what they have described in this paper; to deeply understand the feelings of another people, to understand the meaning of that person’s experiences, and to view the world as they see it, everyone risks being changed. Understanding the importance of active listening, how it feels to be able to listen to someone’s story and help them get to a place where they can be successful and comfortable being in their own skin. References Ivey, A.
E. , Ivey, M. B. , Zalaquett, C. P. , (2010). Intentional, Interviewing and Counseling, Facilitating Client Development in a Multicultural Society. Lee, D. and Hatesohl, D. , (2011) Listening: Our most used communication skill (abstract). University of Missouri Extension. New American Standard Bible, www. biblegateway. com Nichols, Michael P. , Digest by Sharon McLean (2006). The Lost Art of Listening (abstract). Noesner, G. W. , Webster, M. , (2005). Crisis Intervention: Using Active Listening Skills in Negotiations (abstract). Rogers, C. , and Farson R. E. , (2007) Active Listening. Gordon Training International (abstract).