Professional counselors will tell you that one of the most important relationship skills they teach is active listening. Often people get into trouble in their relationships because they have not developed their ability to listen and communicate. However, one can learn to step out of reactivity and listen deeply and lovingly. This is a great gift to self and to family and friends.
Barriers to Effective Communication
There are some good reasons why many people are less-than-effective communicators. These are the most common reasons:
• Lack of skill; not knowing how
• Not taking the time to think through what one wants to say
• Not taking the time to anticipate what another person might be thinking and feeling
• Fear of revealing too much of oneself
• Being afraid of another person’s anger
• Not wanting to hurt another person’s feelings
Four Key Listening Skills
Listening skills are the building blocks of effective communication. These skills enable you to demonstrate that you are interested in what the other person has to say, as well as hearing and understanding the other person. Four key listening skills are open-ended questions, summary statements, reflective statements, and neutral questions and phrases. They are easy to learn with a little practice.
Open-ended questions begin with what, why, how do, or tell me.
Evelyn Schmechtig Cochran