The Intention of Actively Listening

Communicating – I want to hear what you have to say.  Communicating – you are worth it. Creating connection.  Actively Listening.

Making listening an intentional act.  It’s hard. We have so many distractions.  We have computers, tablets, ipods, ipads, phones, and tvs. All ways for us to disconnect from the moments in our lives that seem overwhelming and exhausting. All ways for us to be distracted from people in the same room as us. 

When you are actively listening you are connecting with the other person.  You are communicating, what they have to say is important to you. You are communicating, you are there to hear what they have to say – not necessarily fix all their problems.  And don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time and a place to go into “fix it” mode, but sometimes we need to simply just listen.

So what does this even look like? As always, Great Question! {You always ask such wonderful questions!}

This list could go on forever, but in many ways, it looks like:  Making eye contact. Putting down the devices – and even more than just putting them down, but facing them down or putting them away, so they don’t catch your eye during the conversation. Nodding your head. Asking questions to understand – not to respond. Responding with appropriate emotions. Paraphrasing what was shared.  Being able to summarize what was shared and provide non-judgemental feedback. The next time you are in a conversation – pay attention to what the other person does that makes you feel heard and understood and engaged. This may help you to reciprocate those actions. Self awareness is key when actively listening. 

The difference between listening and actively listening is being present. We are able to be on our phones, and hear what other people have to say.  We see this ALL the time. Parents or significant others will make a statement, and ask – “did you hear what I said?” the response is almost always, “yeah”, and the follow up request remains “okay then, repeat back what I said”. Sound familiar?  The person most often is able to repeat verbatim, but the fact that there is even a question shows there wasn’t active listening involved – simply listening and regurgitating what was said. No real thought process behind what was shared. No active engagement.  

So let’s be intentional.  Let actively engage with the people around us.  Let’s put down those devices {after you finish reading this blog, of course} and get to engaging and connecting in a more meaningful and active way.

*The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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