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Better Communication Skills

Recently, I have been writing about the skill of reflective listening as an adjunct to bettering our communication with, and understanding of, others especially when the others may have different points of view.

Good listening is not easy. Bad news can be a heavy burden. Listening means overcoming roadblocks to effective communication and as such can often be an intense, demanding activity. However it fosters more rewarding relationships. Plus, you get better at it with practice and it becomes a natural way of engaging with others.

When you listen in a reflective way, the other person may feel safe enough to let their guard down a little more, allowing themselves to be vulnerable.

So it is vitally important not to be judgemental in those moments as you may hurt the other more than if you were judgmental from the start.

So, is there a time when it is not appropriate to listen in a reflective way?

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Robert Bolton in his book suggests it is not the time to listen reflectively:

  • When you are not able to be accepting
  • When you do not trust the other to find their own solution
  • When you are not separate from the other and feel emotionally involved.
  • When you use listening as a way of hiding yourself – some never disclose anything of themselves, perhaps using reflective listening as a shield
  • When you feel very hassled or depleted
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I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.” – G.K. Chesterton

An important thing to remember is that the person with the problem, is the best person to solve the problem. Often, we are so keen to jump in with what seems to us – a completely logical solution or suggestion. It is rarely taken on board. Robert Bolton explains why this is:

The other person has most of the data. No matter how effectively he discloses and I listen, the other will have more data on his situation than I can ever have.

The other person takes all the risks If the solution isn’t as good as it looked on the surface, the other must suffer the consequences.

The other must implement the solution.

The other’s confidence and sense of self-responsibility are strengthened when he makes and implements his own solution. He takes a significant step towards shaping his own destiny.. and.. he becomes less dependent on others for help

Robert Bolton, People Skills

Isn’t that what we are trying to achieve?

How to better shape our own destiny?

21 thoughts on “Better Communication Skills”

  1. Better Communication Skills

    On Sunday, September 12, 2021, Something to Ponder About wrote:

    > Forestwood posted: ” Recently, I have been writing about the skill of > reflective listening as an adjunct to bettering our communication with, and > understanding of, others especially when the others may have different > points of view. Good listening is not easy. Bad news ” >

    Like

  2. Amanda, well done. These sentences leaped off the screen to me.

    “An important thing to remember is that the person with the problem, is the best person to solve the problem. Often, we are so keen to jump in with what seems to us – a completely logical solution or suggestion.”

    That should be the mindset. My wife is a great listener and she had to drill her husband on just listening to her vent and not fixing as men often want to do. This maybe one of the first lessons in Marriage 101. Keith

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    1. You must have a great relationship with your wife, if you learnt that lesson so early in marriage, Keith. Occasionally I have to restrain myself with my daughter, who reminds me she just wants to vent!
      It is just so easy to slip in an alternative view but it is rarely heard when someone just has to release the pent-up tension through a rush of words. One text I read recommended phrasing responses and examples or suggestions in such a way that affirms the speaker’s own ability to problem-solve their issues themselves, such as, “have you thought about xxxx (a suggestion), – but you know all this already/you probably have tried xxxxx already.”
      Do you think that approach works?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Amanda. I think putting the actions steps in the hands of the venter is a good approach. That is based on whether action is wanted and needed. If just venting, the speaker may just want to vent and let it go. So, listening is key. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Being curious of others, indicates interest in others. It is comforting to think that someone is interested in another. In truth, that person is learning, so both benefit from curiosity.

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  3. We have a friend who lost his sight late in life, and he has never accepted it. He’s a total mess. Lately he’s tried councilling, and after the first session he told us he’s waiting the councillor to tell him what he can do. That hasn’t happened of course, as the councillor will be trying to aid him to find his own acceptable solutions to help him carry on. He’s now thinking of giving up the councilling. You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some folks are stuck in their journey, thinking others should wave that magic wand for them. But how can anyone else know what is right for him? He sounds like he has high expectations?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Listening is a learned act. I sometimes will not tell my partner things because he will want to fix it when all I want to vent. That’s when I call my girlfriend. 🙂. She will just listen then we move on.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve never learned anything listening to myself. Now, a nice bottle of wine sure does help me listen and it just so happens to aid others in sharing their thoughts. :))

    Liked by 1 person

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