Reflective Listening. Lawyers Assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher. Reflective Listening. This is a core communication skill and to be a great communicator you must master it
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For example if you are hanging a picture and your partner says “why are you doing it that way, you are so incompetent !” most people would be too busy thinking “how dare you criticize me! If you think I am so incompetent do it yourself, what a bitch/bastard you are!!”
This is reacting not listening
Your ego wants to defend itself and usually attack back!
Feelings are a result of cognitions and are a body sensation-anger, fear, sadness etc. You cannot have a feeling -without a thought or series of thoughts preceding it-these may or may not be conscious-often they are stories from the past-E.g. you see a cat that reminds you of your old pet “fluffy” who was hit by a car and killed when you were 7-so you feel sad even though on the surface there is nothing to be sad about-you are just watching a cat!
What people call “thinking” is internal monologues and dialogues-you are always “talking to yourself”
“Thinking” (cognition) are stories you tell yourself about reality (interpretations) in the form of symbols(language)-thought always precedes feeling
Using the word “feeling” does not necessarily mean it is a feeling “I feel you are hanging that picture wrong” is a thought as is “I feel you are treating me badly”
Feelings are bodily reactions to your thoughts and are usually one or two words-more than that is usually a thought “ I am angry ”- is a feeling-whereas “ I feel so stupid’ is a thought (a judgment) about yourself
Sometimes it can be both: ”It feels like you are putting me down” is a judgment and a feeling
You are only listening and understanding not adding anything or interpreting anything-it is not a dialogue or conversation
EG- Speaker-“my mom liked to make clothes and I treasure the things she made for me before she passed away” –listener “ That’s an amazing coincidence, my mom also loved sewing, although she wasn’t very good at it”
This is not reflective-this is the listeners own story-it is reacting and interpreting not listening
At first you will sound like a “broken record” or “a parrot” don’t worry about that- with practice it will become smooth
The most difficult part is shutting off your own noisy mind long enough to actually listen-it may seem tedious –it is-Truly listening is hard work, especially if you disagree with or have an opinion about what the person is talking about