Monday, February 22, 2010

Active Listening 1

Think back to those few friends, mentors, counselors, or
family members who have had the biggest impact on you. How would
you characterize the communication between you? Was it helpful,
meaningful, telepathic, or inspirational?

In one-to-one relationships with someone who knows us well, we
are often in such complete synchronization that communication flows
between us almost without words. Or so we feel. If this is the
case, is it because we excel at expressing ourselves, or because we
are masters of listening? Naturally, both are important, but, to
turn a phrase, talk is cheap and listening is rare.

Chances are that those who influence us most are powerful lis-
teners. Whether instinctively or through practice, they have
developed the skill of empathy.

A University of Maine researcher, Dr. Marisue Pickering, iden-
tifies four characteristics of empathetic listeners:

l. Desire to be other-directed, rather than to project one's own
feelings and ideas onto the other.

2. Desire to be non-defensive, rather than to protect the self.
When the self is being protected, it is difficult to focus on
another person.

3. Desire to imagine the roles, perspectives, or experiences of the
other, rather than assuming they are the same as one's own.

4. Desire to listen as a receiver, not as a critic, and desire to
understand the other person rather than to achieve either agreement
from or change in that person.

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