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What is “active listening?”
In order to provide great emotional support on 7 Cups of Tea, we train individuals to be better Active Listeners. Active Listening is different from the normal listening we do in our everyday conversations. Instead of just “waiting to talk” or thinking about what we’re going to say once our conversation partner stops speaking, active listening requires that the listener completely focus on absorbing, comprehending, and reflecting what the speaker is saying.
Active listening is a great technique to help people feel better when they are going through hard times, dealing with loss, struggling with health issues, or just need to vent. Because active listening directs all focus towards the speaker, it removes potential sources of stress, conflict and discomfort that can happen in a regular conversation.
There are three important concepts that listeners should keep in mind when active listening: 1. Demonstrate Care - An active listener demonstrates that they really care for the other person. Contrary to what you might think, demonstrating you care does not mean trying to solve the other person’s problems or brushing them off as insignificant. Do not interrupt. Do not provide unsolicited advice on what you would do. Just acknowledge the person and their story.
2. Summarize - Make the other person aware that you heard what they said by simply repeating it. You can repeat back exact words, or summarize in your own words what was uttered. Remember, the emphasis is always on other person talking. This means that you’ll likely say “Hmm”, “Okay”, “I understand”, and “Sounds like...” several times. Try not to speak more than 15% of the time.
3. Feel Empathy - It’s easy to say “be empathetic” but it’s harder to do. When you’re active listening, be mindful to think about how you would feel if you were in the other person’s shoes. Ask yourself, what would I be feeling, doing, sensing, if I were them? By making an effort to empathize, your responses to the other person will naturally give off the compassion they need to feel better.