Listening to Understand, Not to Reply
Mariah (Dantzler) McFetridge
Here are some tips to reflective and empathetic listening
- Listen with your body – Mirror the person you are talking to. If the person leans a little forward, lean in as well. If the person whispers, honor them by taking your voice down too. Maintain eye contact and use cues that reflect that you are tracking with them, such as head nods, “mmhmms”, etc.
- Respond by repeating before commenting – this can seem strange at first, but it allows for increased trust within the conversation. If your child is sad because his toy was taken away reflect by stating “you are sad because you lost your toy.”
- Do not infer your own judgements onto someone else – we tend to think of judging as a “bad” thing. Judging is not good or bad but is something we all do by taking our own thoughts and opinions and projecting them onto others. If something seems exciting to us that does not mean it is necessarily exciting to the other person. Follow their lead and emotional cues to land you at a place where you can respond to the emotions they are experiencing. If someone has a packed weekend of birthday parties, they may be feeling overwhelmed so stating “you must be so excited!” might be inaccurate for them in that moment.