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Spleeping or Attentive Listening Published: Sunday, October 22, 2000 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

The condition of attentive listening has been profoundly researched and developed by Sherrod and Phyllis Miller, authors of Core Communication: Skills and Processes. Such a predicament is based on the concepts of creating understanding and building relationships. Attentive listening means creating a relationship with those you are listening to in which they experience being completely heard and understood.

Someone may believe that he/her is a good listener and that he/her readily understands what others are saying. However, your assessment is not the one that counts. It is how others experience you that matters. (We have a good friend working at the White House inWashington,D.C.who tells us that President Clinton has an extraordinary attentive listening capacity). To the contrary, when leaders listen long enough to formulate counter-arguments, people experience themselves as being in a conflict setting rather than in an understanding environment. When someone expresses doubt and the idea is to listen in a way that you can convince them that their doubts are unfounded, then you are not listening with the intention of understanding. When you listen with the sole purpose of convincing, you lose the opportunity to gain essential information.

The fundamental aspect in attentive listening is understanding first and agreement second. It is obvious that this is a task for humans a not for rats… First, make a huge effort at understanding the other person`s point of view. This is the key point, and it is where we need to focus our attention. Then; once there is a reasonable understanding of the viewpoints, we can enter a discussion regarding agreements or disagreements.

Attentive listening means understanding the situation as if you were standing in the other person`s shoes. But you have first to take off your shoes, which can be sometimes difficult. In order to develop this series of integrated skills it is important to practice with them. I have used this methodology with my 12 years old daughter, Dalismar Morales, and it really works. It is important to start and act with the intentionality of really of wanting to learn and understand the statements of the other part. In the same manner, one has to concentrate and listen to the story that is being presented. Within this context it is vital to listen for thoughts, meaning the interpretations that others people are trying to communicate about their experience and reality. Everyone`s experience colors how they see the same set of facts. Thus, listen for facts that will reveal data other people have that causes them to think and feel the way they do. Facts are what actually happened, which is different from what actually happened, which is different from what we think happened or how we feel about what happened.

Listen for feelings. The purpose is to recognize emotions others have as feeling happy, sad, glad, lonely or excited. Listen for feelings means being able to understand and even to some extent experience the feelings of others. When a child or an adult experiences being understood at the feeling level, as new connection is made with the listener and trust is increased. This is a formidable powerful experience. So, to close the circle, listen for intentions again. The aim here is to listen for the other person`s intention again and coming to understand what they want to have happen for themselves, for you and for the relationship.

You cannot go to sleep if you really want to understand the other person`s point of view. If you want to manage relationships in a healthy manner you have to create an environment in which a person who is marginal to any interaction take one small step toward involvement. It really works…


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