Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Active Listening Mindset: Respect

365.229 by Dyanna Hyde, cc license
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!

When I searched on Flickr for an image to go with this post, I was struck by the top three search results. The first photo was a wall ironically graffitied with the words, “young people have no respect for authority.” The second was a public mural with the words, “diversity and respect in our community.” The third was an illustrated quote from Baltasar Gracian’s Criticon: “Respect yourself if you would have others respect you.” I thought these well represent the wide range of ideas we can have in mind when we think about the term, respect: tolerance, love, obedience, self-worth, and acceptance, to name a few.  Clearly, our definitions of respect can vary greatly, so let’s begin by clarifying what we mean by “respect.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Missed Opportunities in Active Listening

Almost by Lauri Rantala, cc license
Last weekend, Jason and I held our first ever yard sale. What an interesting experience! There was one interaction I found to be particularly instructive for me on the importance of active listening in everyday life. I thought I'd take this week to share that, before getting back to the primer.

I wasn't expecting just how good it would feel to pass on an item to someone who was excited to give it a new home. One such item was my first sewing machine, which my mom got for me when I went off to college. We (the machine and I) had more than ten good years together, but a month before I got married, the machine jammed while I was hemming a dress and I couldn't get it to work. I had a list of wedding projects that needed immediate attention, so I decided to buy a new machine rather than taking the time to fix the jammed machine. It was moved to the basement where it sat, unused and mostly forgotten, for four years.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Active Listening Mindset: Focus

a vivid beauty.... by Vinoth Chandar, cc license
I used to tell my crisis hotline trainees that active listening begins before you pick up the phone. Meaning that in order to do active listening well, it’s important to approach it with the right mindset. Profound conversations occur when you are able to fully attend, respect autonomy, and leave judgment out of it. My original intent had been to cover these three areas in one primer post, but it soon became clear that each deserved its own space. Working towards the right mindset for active listening takes just as much work (perhaps more) as acquiring the other listening skills. We begin with focus.