How to enhance the skill of Active Listening and use it for Self Help?
We hear a lot of things in our surroundings and what other people say, but how often do we listen actively? Yes, listen? We encounter so many people new, old acquaintances or in simple terms we come across so many people every day in our walk of life. How much we have learned from others or listened to what the other person has said just by being their without having or looking for the benefit? Self help teaches us the ways of becoming more efficient for oneself and improving the ways of understanding multiple realities of the life and world. It is regarding providing aid to oneself. When we talk about active listening, it goes beyond just hearing. To quote it in other way, it is not just receiving auditory stimulus. It is an effort that requires the processing of information and understanding of what is being said. It is a skill which is just not there in everyone, rather it needs to be developed by investing a positive frame of mind and being aware about our self. It cannot be emphasized enough on how important it is to have an understanding of self to do things and understand experience from a unique subjective view. It is something that we might have been involved in but we would not have thought about it or it did not happen naturally, rather we engaged in it consciously.
The concept of active listening is listed under the works of Carl Rogers. Active listening is a set of communication skills that demonstrates empathy, compassion, understanding and respect. Now the meaning consists of few terms that need to be broadened in order to understand the concept clearly. When it comes to interacting, communication is the primary source through which we communicate to make the other person understand our thoughts, to understand what the other person in saying and also it’s like giving your thought a medium of expression.
Listening also is an important aspect to understand an individual and to make sense about him. Both the aspects go hand in hand when it comes to having a systematic and a meaningful outcome. Compassion in this context would be having a sense of sympathy for others and feeling for them on the humanitarian grounds. Empathy is the hardest of them all, it means understanding what the individual is saying from that person’s point of view or perspective. It is to put yourselves in somebody else’s shoes. These are few points that need to be considered. In order to listen actively, it is more like a process and not a step that can be just done. It is a process of being there with the person and having an open mind to absorb and reflect. We all want people to be there for us and listen to us by providing us space to present our thoughts, but how often do we get that environment? We want and expect that people will listen but we ourselves fail to listen to them.
Trying to comprehend and reflecting on what the person is saying is holistic. There might have been a situation in which you went to someone who you thought would just listen to you, but then when you, after gathering the courage to speak up the person interrupted you, judged you, commented on what you said or simply tried to validate your sayings. This would have annoyed you or made you feel that you were wrong about expressing your thoughts and you should not have done that. It is understood, we do not often get such people who can listen to us by showing involvement of both mind and interest. We ourselves are constantly involved in hearing things. It is a more biological and passive process. It perceives sounds and is more of an effortless process.
Active listening is more about being completely focused on absorbing what the person is saying. It even goes beyond to a therapeutic level where unconditional positive regard is involved, but this is at a professional therapeutic level. Main concern here is to just know about it and try to make sense of what it is so that more accepting spaces can be generated for others and for us. Need for providing non judgmental space for our loved ones to talk is bare minimum. Perhaps these are things that we all know but we still do not think about it because we might feel that there is no direct benefit associated with it. What will I get out of listening to someone? Or how will it help me? These questions can influence in stopping us from engaging in active listening. We often forget that our experiences shape us so many ways and they have a significant contribution in making us the kind of person that we are. Just having an opportunity to get picked by a person who wants to share his/ her personal experiences or problems in itself is motivating. We never think it in a way that, the person trust us or people see us as someone who is capable of listening and being there or someone who is easy to be comfortable with it.
We want others to listen to us or to be there for us, but we forget that we are also like them and we are not always present when some needs us. Having the ability to respond to people or listen to them when they want us to can really help us in gaining insights about various things. For us can it be an opportunity to learn. Anything that provides an opportunity to add on to your skill even if the contribution is less should not be left. Listening to people can help you in knowing about them in a better manner which can in return provide with an experience. When you gain experience you become more and more equipped to deal with different types of people with more ease. It is a way of feeling motivated and it makes you more sympathetic and empathetic towards other people. This is a necessity which has been blurring and the more we can develop our self to have these set of emotions would obviously make us a better individual. It can be in interesting that active listening as a skill which is also required in becoming a good leader. One must have not heard about it as a skill possessed by leaders as it is not so conventional because we see leaders as being ordering and telling most of their points, but it is also required for them to be able to listen to the people so that the outcome can be more impactful as they will be able to know what their people want and how things can be improved according to it. It is a social world and we need to gain the trust of people and make them feel that they are accepted, it can be a difficult task at the same time an easy task.
Help a person by listening and try to help them look for the possible solutions for their problems. It teaches us to engage in a productive conversation where 2 people are sharing and expressing, at the same time one person is also getting support and the level of stress is also being reduced. It is evident from the term that it is an active processes and it really helps you in focusing, concentrating and processing what is being told. More than that it can make you think about yourself and teach you how is effective with communication. Most important aspect here would be that you start appreciating the importance of having a non judgmental space and the kind of acceptance it provides. It is important to listen to someone without expecting same from them and also not looking for benefits because just because we cannot see direct benefits involved it does not means that we gaining noting rather we are developing on emotional side. In a way if we look at it, this skill promotes prosocial behavior and that in return boosts our self esteem. We can be present for others only when we understand that a little step can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. Any skill, let it be active listening, if that is helping others grow and allowing you to grow is definitely a positive skill to look for.