Active listening is another basic tool of effective communication. It is employed whenever the other has a problem. We want to listen carefully to what the other is trying to say. Here are some guidelines for doing this.
1) LOOK INTO OTHER’S EYES: This is especially important, as the eyes are the real channels of deeper communication. If the other is talking to us and we are looking at TV, the computer, newspaper, or out the window, at the ceiling, down toward the floor, he or she does not feel recognized, important or connected with us.
2) GIVE EVIDENCE OF INTEREST: We can nod occasionally, make facial movements that indicate that we are listening and understanding.
3) VERIFY IF YOU UNDERSTAND OR NOT: We can ask questions that enable us to clarify if we understand what the other is saying. This is also important for the other to realize that we are listening and interested.
4) NO ADVICE OR CRITICISM: We avoid giving advice, and in all cases, we do not criticise or judge. All the truths that the other needs are within. We are there to help the other come into contact with his or her own inner truth and wisdom. This is the greatest gift we can offer someone.
5) IMAGINE YOU ARE WHAT THE OTHER FEELS/NEEDS: Empathy is an important ability in such situations as it allows the other to feel understood and cared for, but also allows us to experience his or her inner reality and thus be guided to ask more astute and effective questions or make gestures that will more effectively help the other. Here, however, it is important not to get lost with the other. If the other is drowning in a sea of emotions, we need two abilities. One is to get into the sea with him or her so we can touch them and bring them out. The other is to simultaneously be aware that:
A. This is a soul in an evolutionary process that is experiencing exactly what he or she needs to in order to develop on an inner level at this time. What he or she is going through is a “soul choice”.
B. That this is an immortal divine being who has temporarily lost contact with its inner wisdom and guidance, and that the greatest gift we can offer is to help that being reconnect with the truth and power within.
6) BE GENUINE – NOT PHONY: It will not do to fake interest or feelings. The other will see through this. We need to be interested, but also to be ourselves.
7) ASK QUESTIONS: There are two types of questions.
A. Questions we ask in order to clarify that we understand what we are hearing and also to verify to the other that we are interested and understand.
B. Questions we ask in order to enable the other to realise more clearly his or her feelings, needs, beliefs, perhaps past experiences that may be contributing to the problem, and, of course, solutions.
This is a technique used by psychologists and psychotherapists to facilitate an individual’s self-knowledge and transformation. It is also a technique used thousands of years ago by the philosopher Socrates to guide people to the truth within.
* Adrian Daisley is a Certified Life Coach and Business Consultant, Founder of Think and Prosper