Good Listening Makes for Good Communication

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“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

ignoring wifeConflict often arises when a person feels they are not being heard, or that the listener just does not understand. Typically, the response is to state one’s case more vehemently, often more loudly, and perhaps even angrily. If this still does not work, the speaker may resort to attacking the listener.

The listener may have missed the message because it was not expressed clearly. However, it may due to inattentiveness, or not wanting to hear what was being said. If a listener has a negative reaction to what is being said, the message may simply be dismissed without any acknowledgment.

It is easy to see how communication can become frustrating. Effective communication is fundamental to healthy relationships, be it with parents, children, partners or in the workplace.

There is a useful strategy you can employ the next time you feel a communication is not going well. Put your own point of view aside for the moment, and express an interest in really understanding what the other person is thinking and feeling. Allow them to express without interruption, argument, or comments, other than to seek clarification.

When you feel you really understand, verbalize that understanding so the speaker knows you have got it. Now the speaker can put his or her guard down, secure in the knowledge that the salient points have been received. You can now state your point of view, trusting the listener will reciprocate the good listening behavior you have just modeled.

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