Tag: responsive listening

Listen up

I have really been examining my listening skills lately. Realizing in that examination that often I am either distracted or I try to talk my kids and partner out of what they’re feeling or wanting or needing. Really. A little song, dance, explanation or solution to get them back to happy. Even when they don’t want a fix, I offer it. Even when they’re really just venting, I try to convince them that it’s not true what they’re experiencing or feeling. Even when they don’t need me to do anything but just be there and listen, I tend to talk, offer solutions and ideas. Sometimes on top of their own words. Too many words. Too much noise. Too much input.

I’ve always been a talker, that much is true.  I even have a certificate from 8th grade proving it: MOST TALKATIVE. As if that wasn’t enough there is another one right behind it: CLASS CLOWN. A dangerous combination in the classroom has become even more treacherous in the home.

But I’m trying to change that.

Not that I’m going to get all quiet and serious. Hell no. But I am going to try to shut it a bit more when my family is talking. I am going to try to just let the good members of my family vent, share, talk, express and even ramble a little bit. (Is that a judgment? the ramble part?) It has taken me a long time to learn/realize that when they are talking, for the most part they’re not really seeking input. Rather they just want a sounding board. And with all of them, from the nearly 5 year old on up to the 45 year old partner, the more I let them talk, the more I listen, the more I learn and the more they eventually come to their own conclusions about what they want/need/feel. Without any help from their armchair psychologist/class clown of a mother/partner.

It’s kind of hard for me but in the end it’s really way easier. And it’s good for me to have a daily goal. And in the end too there are/will be far fewer arguments, hurt feelings, misunderstandings and the like. And there are/will be far more own conclusions and remedies for what is ailing them.

There are lots of words for it: empathic listening, active listening, responsive listening, reflective listening. And there are lots of amazing books on it and experts. But really, what it boils down to for me is presence to the people I’m with and the task at hand. In this case the people being family and the task being to just be there. Pure and simple.




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Responsive Listening

We interrupt your summer to bring you this important bit of information…

I’m doing a little summer reading over here. Some light stuff you know. This one in my hand is called Stop Arguing with Your Kids: how to win the battle of wills by making your child feel heard. It’s got some great information in it and it is especially pertinent in our household as we segue from school to summer. It’s stuff we might have known but need a bit of a reminder on. Big transitions call for refreshing the toolbox.

The section I’m currently working on is chapter 2: The Five Steps of Responsive Listening. In quick review, here they are:

  1. At the first sign of an argument, check the impulse to argue back with your child and concentrate instead on listening to the child’s feelings.
  2. Invite your child’s thoughts, feelings, and wishes – without defending or disagreeing (and to this I add, without judging)
  3. Repeat the child’s position in your own words to show what you think he or she is thinking and feeling.
  4. Ask the child to correct your impression or elaborate on his or her point of view.
  5. Take time out to consider your decision – on minor matters by puasing before responding with our decision, or for more difficult situations by saying that you’ll talk more about it later.

Okay, now back to your summer. I wish you all a little peace in your own summer days. With less yelling and more enjoyable being. Together.

esme at the park

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