December 1, 2016
December 1, 2016

Active Listening

When my teenage son came home after school, I asked him to walk the dog. His reply was angry and disrespectful. I knew that I could not have created his mood so I inquired as to what his school day was like. He responded that he was going to his room. (Whenever, he needed to ponder his behavior he was told to go to his room and think about his actions.) At this age he was able to put himself into his own room to do just that.

He reappeared in about twenty minutes, apologized and told me about his horrible day. His girlfriend had spoken to another boy, and his teacher had scolded him. I told him I was sorry that he had had such a difficult day. He then said, "I'll walk the dog now."

That exchange is an example of Active Listening. Active Listening is allowing the speaker to explain why s/he spoke in an angry or disrespectful or arrogant manner. In other words the speaker has offended you in some manner, whether with words or with the tone of the voice, or the behavior. Most of that offensive behavior can be eliminated or modified by taking the speakers point of view.

If you are not aware of the point of view, merely voicing the emotion that you are observing that you find offensive will show concern rather than judgement. It is important that you do not let the speaker know that you are offended or the entire conversation results in both defending their point of view. Nothing is accomplished by that type of altercation.

As much as possible try and think of a time where you might have felt the same way or responded in the same manner due to stressful prior situations. Then articulate to the speaker how you believe they might be feeling. If you observe a sigh of relief or a remark, "Yes today went horribly." (followed by an explanation such as a car veered in front of me, almost causing a collision). Of course the reply would be very different from the anger that you initially felt. You would probably state how you were in similar close calls and how scary that situation was.

Active Listening with a male and female gets tricky. Often the male has no similar experience and deems his female partner either crazy, unhinged, or overly emotional. Discounting the female's emotions can lead to tremendous dissension and often to divorce. In that case one must just verbally mirror and reflect back the emotions that you are perceiving. This type of Active Listening comes across to a female as kindness It can stimulate and emulate sexual foreplay. It is well worth the male to engage in learning Active Listening if he is in a relationship with the opposite sex.

Active Listening often requires training as it is a skill that prompts good conversational and debating skills.