The art of being a good listener is becoming more and more of a lost art. Face to face and even phone conversations are no longer the primary way we communicate. Our interactions are primarily through the computer and cell phone where we email or text in terse, abbreviated, and frequently misunderstood modes.
When we do have in-person conversations, these same devices turn us into one of Pavlov’s dogs, immediately turning our attention the minute we hear a ding. It’s nearly impossible to be a good listener when you’re on constant alert for some other more important message coming in.
We all know it’s important to be a good listener because we know how good it feels when we’re heard. But the reality is we aren’t good listeners. And unfortunately, our children are learning from us….
I’m afraid, we’re teaching them that it’s more important to be heard than it is to “listen” to what someone is saying.
How can we be better listeners (and models for our children)?
- Remove or avoid distractions.
Give your child your full attention- when you’re having a conversation with her, put away your devices.
Notice times when she is more likely to talk and be available.
2. Watch for non-verbal communication and tone of voice.
Is he agitated, or nervous? relax your posture, lean in to him, and make eye contact. Reassure him that you are listening by nodding.
Check your non verbals. Resist arguing. He will tune out if you appear angry or defensive.
3. Don’t interrupt or change the subject.
Let her complete her thought before you respond. Listen to what she has to say, then repeat what you heard to ensure you understand her correctly- particularly if you disagree on the subject.
Express your opinion without shutting down theirs. Acknowledge that it’s okay to disagree- and teach them how to disagree Respectfully.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOUR CHILD IS FEELING DURING THE CONVERSATION- NOT YOU
4. Practice silence.
Sometimes the very best way to listen is to allow a space of silence in the conversation. A verbal response isn’t always necessary, and this space of silence invites your child to offer more of what they are thinking and feeling.
It’s uncomfortable to sit in silence for more than a few seconds, but push past the discomfort and just sit with it. Sometimes the most powerful connections are made in that silent space.
The best way to encourage your child to be a good listener is: Be a good role model. Your child learns how to communicate by watching you carefully. When you talk with your child (and others) in a respectful way, this gives a powerful message about positive communication.
Parenting is hard work sometimes, but we can do this together!
Keep Living Out Loud
in HIM, terry