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  • Writer's pictureMona Cooley

How To Listen

What happens in the 10-week sessions?

Hearing there was a 96% success rating in a pilot project supported by Thumbs Up Foundation in Airdrie, individuals are asking what happens in the sessions.

What happens is learning the “how to” of managing difficult situations through our techniques of LUV (listen, understand, validate) and ACE (accountable, commitment, engage).

One participant previously mentioned being frustrated in being told what to do and not “how to” do it. The first thing to learn is “how to” LISTEN. Recently, I did a session that involved one exercise of how to listen. After the exercise was completed, the question was asked, “what did you learn?” – “I know how to listen.” Think for a minute, have you been told by a family member, you don’t listen. You thought you were listening. If you are wondering “how to” listen after responding yes to the question above, these 3 steps will help you to listen and have loved ones feel you are listening.

3 Steps For How To Listen:

1. Be in the moment – this can be difficult because our minds are whirling with thoughts of to do lists etc. or you just dealt with a difficult situation. Listening to others, the mind wanders or gets distracted. I know what this is like, I was told I was not listening. How do you stay in the moment? The blunt answer is to park your thoughts and pay attention to what the person is saying. Yes, it is not easy, what it takes is practice. Tell yourself, I am going to listen to what is being said. The clue for you is, can you repeat what is being said? If not, you are not listening. Usually the mind is fixated on what is happening to you. The mind searches for the solution rather than just listening to what is said. Simply stated, just listen so you can hear what is being said.

2. Hear correctly - now that you have parked your thoughts, you are in the moment and you are leaning in to hear what someone is saying. You hear their words such as, “I am frustrated with…” Now what do you say? You say, “Did I hear you say you are frustrated with work?” What you are doing is repeating their words they have said. The person knows you are listening and they feel heard. Part of your mind is wanting to spill out a lot of ideas of what to do BUT, stop yourself, repeat what you heard and wait to see if they say yes or no if you heard them right.

3. Wait for the response – if they say yes, be curious and ask what is frustrating them with work? Listen again. A reply can be, “It must be frustrating that work is…” (repeat what they say is frustrating to them). You are only listening, no jumping in with ideas. Repeating what you hear them saying is allowing them to talk it out and may come to their own conclusion of what to do about their situation. When they expand on their frustrations, you can ask them, “What do you think you can do about this situation?” When a person can come up with their own answers, they will be more motivated to take action. If they say, “I don’t know what to do,” you can ask if they are open to hearing some ideas. Wait for their answer. If yes, you can share your ideas then leave it with them by saying, “It is your choice what you choose to do with these ideas.”

Practice these steps to REALLY LISTEN. The key is to let the person sharing with you lead the conversation; you are following along with what they are saying. This makes it easy for you because the person is left to decide what they do without you having to jump in to save the day. Your listening, and asking questions such as, “What do you think you can do about it?” empowers them to realize that they have the ability to work out their own situation.

When you are listening more and watching their body language and tone of voice, you will likely see them responding with more information than they normally would because you were listening not fixing.

Ask the person you have been listening to if they felt heard. If yes, ask them to tell you more of what it felt like to be heard. The more positive feedback from others, the more you will listen over fixing. Email your own personal experience to –

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