How often are we listening to understand instead of listening to change? Research shows that most conversations we have are one way; meaning that we are only listening to gain information for ourselves to then reply. When people don’t feel heard or understood, especially children, they tend to get louder to try to communicate how they feel or what they need. Simply validating a person by reflective statements can help a person feel understood, aligned with, and most importantly heard. We do not always need to have a solution or answer. An example of this could be that Sally comes home from school after a long day stating she feels overwhelmed by day and a parent might reflect back to her “you feel tired and stressed, school days can be hard.” It’s tempting to ask Sally “have you used your agenda to help” or stated, “well, we need to come up with a solution that doesn’t make you feel that way” and while those statements are well intentioned it does not help for Sally to feel understood and heard. We do not always need to solve problems, sometimes just allowing space for someone to feel heard can allow them to make the changes they need within themselves.
Here are some tips to reflective and empathetic listening
Listening to understand vs to reply is a skill that takes time, but it is proven to deepen connection and relationships. Get started listening well today!