Reflective listening
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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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Reflective Listening

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Reflective listening

Reflective Listening

Lawyers Assistance Program

Facilitated by Robert Bircher

Reflective listening1

Reflective Listening

  • This is a core communication skill and to be a great communicator you must master it

  • It involves tracking the thoughts and feelings of another in an unbiased and unaltered form and reflecting them back to another accurately

  • The problem is most people are not listening at all-they are thinking up their response to the other person

  • This becomes particularly acute if it is a conflict situation

Reflective listening2

Reflective Listening

  • 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!

Reflective listening3

Reflective Listening

  • Reflecting what is going on for the other person is lost in the reaction

  • A refection would be “it sounds like you think I am doing this poorly and are angry with me”

  • This is simply trying to understand what is going on for the other person-not problem solving or defending yourself-which most people immediately jump to

Reflective listening4

Reflective Listening

  • The reason it is so critical is that problem solving or communication cannot proceed without understanding each other

  • It is simply the first and most basic step in communication

  • It is not just parroting and repeating back-it is nonjudgmental understanding of the other

Reflective listening5

Reflective Listening

  • The trick to it is to turn off the part of your mind that wants to judge or comment on what the other person says-this is not easy!

  • It is just making sure you understand what thoughts and feelings the other person has-nothing more-nothing added or taken away

  • Make sure you know the difference between thought and feelings

Thoughts and feelings

Thoughts and Feelings

  • 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”

Thoughts and feelings1

Thoughts and Feelings

  • “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

Practicing reflective listening

Practicing Reflective Listening

  • The best way to learn reflective listening is to practice it

  • Exercise-How to do it: one person is the talker the other the listener, sit in a dyad. Pick a topic that has thoughts and feelings i.e. my relationship with my mother or father is a good one

  • Speak in short sentences because the listener must accurately reflect what is being said by the talker and it is hard to remember a long story

Practising reflective listening

Practising Reflective Listening

  • 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

Practising reflective listening1

Practising Reflective Listening

  • A reflection would be “it seems your mom liked the process of making clothes and you are very attached to what she made for you, especially since she is now gone”

  • You are simply reflecting back what they said to get an accurate understanding of where they are at

  • What is the purpose of this? it is the first and most important step to any communication or conflict resolution-if you skip this step further resolution is difficult or impossible

  • It is critical for connection

Practice tips

Practice Tips

  • 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

  • Lets try it for a about 5 minutes each

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