Monday, October 22, 2012

Active Listening

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One of the easiest ways to help someone reduce their aggression and relieve their anxiety is listening to their problem. There are two ways of doing so, passive listening and active listening (Stein, 00). Passive listener assumes that they understand what the speaker means, and they respond immediately without making sure of what the speaker is trying to say. In contrast, active listening is when the listener “reflects back” what they have heard before they give a response. When a listener reflects back they should use their own words to restate or summarize what they have heard. Not only does this clarify or make sure what they heard is correct, it allows the speaker to hear the message they were trying to convey.

When a speaker is reflecting back they should point out key ideas, or underlying emotions. Many common reflecting back statements include, “I get the sense that…”, “You’re concerned that…”, or “If I hear your right, you’re saying...”. When a person reflects back they are making a nonjudgmental statement of fact The listener is not correcting misperceptions, offering an opinion, or providing substantive response to what’s been said. In restating the speaker’s position the most important element is not agreeing with it, but instead showing that you understand.

Why actively listening so important? Other than it is an essential tool in effective communication, people who make clear statements of feeling are in better position to solve their problems, than those who remain silent and repress their feelings (Hendricks, 177). Secondly, listener’s who reflect the client’s feelings are perceived as more empathic and facilitative of change when compared to passive listeners.

There are four ways in which a person can improve their active listening skills. The first way is to ask open-ended questions (Boyd, 18). Questions that command, yes, no, or one word answers produce responses that are less revealing to the listener. On the other hand, open-ended questions encourage the speaker to give details and force you to pick up the conversation where the speaker left off. The second tip to becoming a better active listener is to paraphrase what the speaker has said. Being able to accurately paraphrase someone else’s words really shows that the listener is concentrating on what is being saying and that they really care. Thirdly, listen first; advise second. When someone comes to person with a problem, impulsively the person may want to offer an immediate response. Though, sometimes all that person wants is someone to listen and understand, and in by doing so the listener will understand the person’s problem better, and if he or she does not solve their own problem by talking about it, the listener will be better prepared to offer advice. Lastly, commit completely to listening to what the speaker is trying to communicate. Do not let anything distract the listener. If need be, pull the speaker aside, find a place where distractions can be limited. Not only does this allow a person to be a better listener, but it conveys to the speaker that listening to their problem is the top priority.

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Almost everyone has heard the saying, “There are only so many hours in a day,” and this is why effectively managing one’s time can be a key benefit is improving the quality of a person’s life. There are numerous advantages to managing one’s time better; for example, many frustrating situations can be avoided with effective planning and organizing techniques. Not only is frustration reduced, but much of a person’s dissatisfaction comes from not knowing where they are going or what they are doing. Time management includes smart goal setting techniques, which will help a person to realize where they are going and what is the optimal path to getting there. Many times we are often burdened by the subconscious guilt for the things we are unable to accomplish or think that we should have gotten completed. With effective time management a person can overcome their procrastination and/or learn to prioritize. With this is play, a person knows that they did the most important thing they could possibly do. This in affect enables them to feel much more confident and decisive in their choices, leaving much less space for guilt or dissatisfaction. A final benefit of time management is effectively distinguishing one’s mind from those energy drains of unhandled things and “unfinished business”. Without this extra baggage a person will experiences much higher levels of energy and get more quality time to do what they feel is most important.

One of the first steps in effective time management is setting goals and objectives. When setting goals keep in mind a person must be persistence and flexible; unexpected problems constantly arise that may try to rear a person’s from the path of success. Staying determined to stick with your goals, but at the same time having flexibility within one’s course of action will enable a person to still accomplish their goals.

The second step is arranging those goals and objectives from most important to least important. Prioritizing makes sure that the arbitral tasks do not get in the way of what is really important, and once those really important tasks are out the way stress and anxiety can be greatly reduced.

After you have prioritized, determine how much time should be allotted for each task. Usually, the higher the task is on the priority list, the more time that should be spent accomplishing that objective. This way, if a person has a few extra minutes left over at the end of the day, they can complete the task towards the bottom of the list that are least important and should not take very much time.

The last key point to remember is to write things down. Keeping a log or calendar will allow a person to organize their thoughts, and help to analyze where they actually spend the majority of their time. This will help a person to eliminate wasted time, and realize what time of the day in which they are most effective, so that they can carry out their most important tasks during these times. Managing one’s time can be a difficult task for anyone, but in doing so a person can be in more control of their time, their life, and of their stress and energy levels.



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