Psychology and Psychiatry

Active listening

Active listening is a complex communicative skill, semantic speech perception. It involves the direct interaction of all participants in the process of communication (the listener and the speaker) and indirect interaction when speech is heard on television, radio, from a computer, etc. Active listening can help to understand, assess and remember the information transmitted by the interlocutor. Also, the methods of active listening may induce the individual to answer, direct the conversation in the right direction, preventing the wrong, erroneous understanding or misinterpretation of messages received from the interlocutor.

Active listening technique

The term active listening is a Hippenreiter introduced into our culture. In her opinion, active listening should be meaningful for everyone, as it opens up new opportunities for establishing deep contact between parents and their children, adult spouses with each other, work colleagues, etc. Such listening can relieve emerging conflicts and tensions, create an atmosphere of good and warmth, the spirit of mutual acceptance. The book “The Miracles of Active Hearing” by Hippenreiter contains step-by-step instructions on how to master the skill of active listening, answers to frequently asked questions, and a host of life examples that show the effectiveness of the ability to actively listen.

The goal of any hearing is to obtain as much information as possible in order to make the right decision. The quality of any conversation depends not only on the ability to speak, but also on the ability to perceive information. When a subject is interested in a conversation, he tries to listen carefully and involuntarily turn to face the subject who is currently speaking, or leans towards him, i.e. eye contact is established.

The ability to listen as if with “whole body” helps to better understand the interlocutor’s identity and shows the interlocutor interest in him. It is necessary to listen to the interlocutor always attentively, especially if there is a danger of any misunderstanding. The formation of misunderstandings is possible when the conversation itself or its subject matter is too complicated to understand or completely unfamiliar. It also happens when a speaker has some speech defects or an accent. In such cases, and in many others, it is necessary to develop active listening skills.

Unconditional acceptance is important in any interaction, especially for establishing contact with children or spouses. Communication should be based on the principle of unconditional acceptance.

Unconditional acceptance is mainly a demonstration to another individual that a person exists and has its own significance. Achieving unconditional adoption by one individual of another is possible using a variety of factors, for example, asking questions that demonstrate to an individual that his opinion is important to you, that you would like to know and understand him better. But the most important thing in the question is the answer to it. It is in such cases that active listening techniques are needed. The following techniques exist: echoing, rephrasing, and interpretation.

The “echo” technique is a verbatim repetition of the last words of the interlocutor, but with interrogative intonation. Paraphrasing consists in a brief transfer of the essence of the information transmitted by the partner. It usually begins with the words: "if I understood you correctly, then ...". Interpretation is an assumption about the real, correct meaning of what was said, about its goals and causes. Here a phrase like this is used: "I guess you ...".

The technique of active listening consists in: the ability to listen and empathize with the interlocutor; in clarifying information for oneself, by paraphrasing the statements of the interlocutor; in the ability to ask questions on the topic of conversation.

Thanks to the method of active listening a person will increase self-esteem, improve interaction with others. Active listening helps identify problems and possible solutions.

The ability to actively listen is a specific sequence of actions. So, the first thing that should be done with active listening is to look at the interlocutor, since eye contact is a significant element of communication. Interest in the information transmitted by the interlocutor, is expressed in the interlocutor's eyes.

And if you examine the interlocutor completely (“from head to toe”), this indicates that the interlocutor himself is more important to you, and not the information transmitted to them. If during the conversation to consider the surrounding objects, it will indicate that the person is not important, neither the interlocutor, nor the information transmitted to them, specifically at the moment.

The main element of active listening is the ability to show the other person that they are listening attentively and with interest. This is achieved by accompanying the partner’s speech with a nod of the head, pronouncing such words as: “yes”, “I understand you”, etc. However, excessive manifestation can cause a backlash.

Also, you should not try to complete the sentence instead of the interlocutor, even if you fully understand what the subject of communication wants to say. It is necessary to give the opportunity to the individual to understand and finish the thought.

In situations where something in the conversation is not clear, you should ask questions. It is necessary to contact the interlocutor for clarification or clarification. The desire to obtain clarifying or additional information is one of the most important indicators of active listening. In cases when it is clear what the interlocutor is talking about, but he cannot independently express his thought, one can help him with a question. But since each question implies only a few answers, you should learn to ask the right questions.

Another important element of active perception is the rephrasing of the statements of the communication partner. Paraphrasing involves an attempt to clarify the meaning of a statement by repeating to the partner his own information, but in other words. In addition to correct understanding, paraphrasing also provides an additional opportunity for the interlocutor to notice that they are listening attentively and trying to understand.

Important in the active perception is the observation of the feelings of the partner. To do this, you can use a phrase of this type - “I understand how difficult it is for you to talk about it”, etc. This shows the partner that they empathize with him. Emphasis should be placed on the reflection of feelings that are expressed by the interlocutor, his emotional state and attitudes.

The main characteristic feature of active perception, which increases its effectiveness, is determined by the fact that in the process of verbal communication all possible misinterpretations and doubts are eliminated. That is, when a communication partner comes forward from an active listening position, he can always be sure that he understands the interlocutor correctly. It is the reverse verbal communication, which confirms the correctness of the partner’s understanding and attitude towards him without prejudice, and makes active perception (listening) such an effective means of communication. Techniques of active perception are described in greater detail in the book “The Miracles of Active Listening” by Julia Gippenreiter.

Active listening techniques

Active listening, sometimes also called reflective, sensitive, thoughtful, is the most effective way of perceiving any information today. That is why it is so important to use active listening techniques in everyday life.

Among the techniques of active listening, the following are distinguished: pause, clarification, retelling, thought development, communication about perception, communication about self-perception, remarks about the conversation.

The pause allows the verbal communication partner to think. After such a pause, the interlocutor can add something else, say something that he would have kept silent about before. It also allows the listener to withdraw from himself, his assessments, feelings, thoughts, and focus on the interlocutor. The ability to switch to the internal process of a communication partner, moving away from oneself is one of the most difficult and most important conditions for active perception, which creates a trusting mood between the partners in conversation.

The clarification is understood as a request to clarify or clarify any of the delivered speech. In any ordinary communication, small inaccuracies and understatements are thought of by communicators for each other. However, when in the course of a conversation emotionally significant questions are touched upon, complex topics are discussed, the interlocutors often involuntarily avoid raising painful questions. Clarification is able to preserve the understanding of the thoughts and feelings of the interlocutor in the situation that has arisen.

Retelling is an attempt by the attentive interlocutor to briefly repeat what the partner said in your own words. At the same time, the one who listens should try to highlight and emphasize the most important thoughts and accents. Retelling is the possibility of feedback, understanding how words sound from the outside. The result of the retelling can be either the receipt by the interlocutor of confirmation that he is understood, or the possibility of adjusting the statements appears. Also, a paraphrase can serve as a way to summarize subtotals.

With the help of the reception of the development of thought is an attempt to pick up and move further the course of the main idea or thought of the interlocutor.

The listener can tell the interlocutor his impression of him, which was formed in the process of communication. This technique is called the message of perception.

And the message by the listener to the interlocutor about the changes in his personal state during the hearing is called receiving a message about self-perception. For example, "I hate to hear it."

An attempt by the listener to inform about how, in his opinion, it is possible to understand the conversation entirely and completely is called receiving comments about the course of the conversation. For example, "we seem to have reached a common understanding of the issue."

Active listening methods

The ability to carefully listen and understand the partner in conversation in psychology is called empathy. There are three stages of empathy: empathy, sympathy and sympathy.

Empathy comes when a person feels identical emotions natural. For example, if a grief happened to one person, another person might cry with him. Empathy lies in the emotional response, the urge to help the other. So, if one happened to grief, the second does not cry with him, but offers help.

Sympathy is manifested in a warm, friendly attitude towards other people. For example, when you like a person externally, i.e. causes sympathy, I want to talk to him.

Empathy helps one person to better understand another, the ability to show another that he is important. Some people have innate empathy or may develop this quality in themselves. In order to develop empathy, there are two methods: the method I-utterance and the method of active listening.

The method of active listening is a technique that is used in the practice of psychological and psychotherapeutic counseling, in various trainings. It allows you to better understand the psychological state, thoughts, feelings of the interlocutor with the help of certain techniques that involve the active manifestation of personal considerations and experiences.

The author of this method is considered to be Carl Rogers. He believed that the four main elements form the foundation of meaningful and beneficial relationships: the expression of feelings, regular fulfillment of obligations, the absence of characteristic roles, the ability to participate in the inner life of another.

The essence of the method of active perception lies in the ability to listen, and most importantly, to hear more than what is reported, while giving direction in the right direction with the help of short phrases. The interlocutor must not just speak out; the partner in conversation must invisibly participate in the monologue with the help of simple phrases, as well as repetition of the interlocutor's words, paraphrasing them and directing them in the right direction. This technique is called empathic listening. During such a hearing it is necessary to move away from personal thoughts, assessments and feelings. The main point during the active hearing is that the partner in verbal communication should not express their own opinions and thoughts, evaluate this or that act or event.

Active listening has several specific methods: paraphrasing or echo-engineering, summarizing, emotional repetition, refinement, logical consequence, non-reflexive listening, non-verbal behavior, verbal signs, and specular reflection.

Echotechnique is to express thoughts differently. The main goal of eco-technology is to clarify the message, to demonstrate to the communication partner that it is heard, to give a kind of sound signal "I am the same as you." This method is concluded in that one interlocutor returns his statements to another (several phrases or one), paraphrasing them with his own words while inserting introductory phrases. To rephrase information it is necessary to choose the most significant and essential points of statements. With the so-called "return" replica no need to explain what was said.

A feature of this technique is its usefulness in cases where the statements of the interlocutor seem to be understandable to his communication partner. It often happens that such “clarity” is illusory and the present clarification of all circumstances does not occur. Echotechnology can easily solve such a problem. This technique gives the communication partner an idea that he was understood and encouraged to discuss what seems to be the most important. With the help of paraphrasing one subject of communication allows the other to hear his statement from the side, makes it possible to notice mistakes, realize and clearly articulate their thoughts. In addition, this technique gives time for comprehension, which is especially necessary in a situation where it is impossible to immediately find the answer.

Summarizing consists in summing up, highlighting the basic idea, reproducing the words of the interlocutor in a generalized and condensed form. The main purpose of this technique is to show that the one who listens, caught the speaker’s information completely, and not just one part. Summarization is transmitted using a specific set of specific phrases. For example, "this way." This method helps during the discussion of claims or problem solving. Summarization is very effective in cases where the clarification was at a standstill or was delayed. This technique is quite an effective and unseemly way to end a conversation with a too talkative or just talkative interlocutor.

Emotional repetition consists in a brief repetition of what was heard, better using keywords and client turns. In this technique, you can ask questions by type: "I understand you correctly?" At the same time, the interlocutor is pleased that he has been heard and understood correctly, while the other will remember what he heard.

The clarification is to refer to the speaking subject for a specific clarification. It is necessary to begin with elementary questions - clarifying. The effectiveness of clarification in most cases depends on the questioning technique itself. Questions should be open, should be - as if the unfinished. Clarifying questions usually begin with the words "where", "how", "when", etc. For example: "what do you mean?". With the help of such questions you can gather the necessary and relevant information, opening the inner meaning of communication. Such questions explain to both partners in conversation the details that were missed in communication. This way the interlocutor is shown that the partner is interested in what he hears. With the help of questions one can influence the situation in such a way that its development proceeds in the right direction. With the help of this technique, it is possible to detect lies and its background, without giving rise to hostility from the communication partner. For example: "can repeat again?" With this technique, you should not ask questions that require one-syllable answers.

The logical consequence implies the conclusion by the listener of a logical consequence from the statements of the speaker. This method makes it possible to clarify the meaning of what has been said, to obtain information without using direct questions. Such a technique differs from the others in that the interlocutor does not just rephrase or summarize the message, but makes an attempt to deduce from the statement of a logical consequence, puts forward an assumption about the reasons for the statements. This method involves avoiding haste in the conclusions and the use of non-categorical formulations and softness of tone.

A non-reflexive hearing or attentive silence lies in the silent perception of all information without parsing or sorting. Since sometimes any phrase of the listener can be either skipped past the ears, or, even worse, can cause aggression. This is because such phrases are contrary to the desire of the interlocutor to speak out. При использовании данного метода нужно дать понять собеседнику, с помощью сигнала, что слушатель сосредоточен на его словах. В качестве сигнала можно использовать кивок головой, изменение выражения лица или утвердительные реплики.

Невербальное поведение заключается в зрительном контакте продолжительностью прямого взгляда непосредственно в глаза собеседнику не более трех секунд. Then you need to translate the view on the nose, middle of the forehead, chest.

Active posture involves listening with expressive facial expressions, bright face, and not with a dismissive facial expression.

Verbal signs consist in the interlocutor's signaling of attention with phrases such as: “continue,” “understand you,” “yes, yes.”

Mirror reflection is the manifestation of emotions that are consonant with the emotions of the partner in communication. However, this method will be effective only when real experiences are reflected, which are felt at a particular moment.

Active listening examples

Active listening can be used to improve sales performance. Active perception in sales is one of the main skills of a successful seller (sales manager), which helps to “talk” the prospective buyer. This skill should be used at all stages of client-manager interaction. More effective is the active hearing at the initial stage of the study, when the seller finds out what exactly the client needs, as well as at the stage of working with objections.

An active hearing in the field of sales is necessary so that customers eagerly speak out about their problems. To make a profitable offer to a specific potential buyer, you need to understand what will be profitable for him. To find out, ask the right questions. Two methods of active listening are used: non-verbal, rephrasing, summarizing and refining.

Active listening is also necessary when interacting with children, which is the use of certain methods. In order to listen to the child should turn to face him so that his eyes were on the same level. If the baby is quite small, then you can pick him up or sit down. You should not talk to children from different rooms or turn away from them, doing any household work. Since the child will be judged by the posture how important it is for parents to communicate with him. Answers of parents should be in an affirmative form. You should avoid phrases that are in the form of a question or do not display sympathy. It is necessary to maintain pauses after each replica. In more detail, the active hearing Gippenreiter described in her books.

Active listening is indispensable in family relationships and in business, in virtually any area of ​​personal interaction. An example of an incentive reception of active listening is the phrase: "I listen to you," "Very interesting." An example of clarification is the phrase - "How did it happen?", "What do you mean?". An example of empathy is the phrase: "you seem a little upset." An example of a summary is the phrase: "I understand this is the key idea of ​​what you said?".

Active listening exercises

There is a huge variety of different exercises for making active listening techniques. The exercise "active listening" assumes the presence of several participants, it will last 60 minutes. All participants sit in a circle. The exercise is performed in pairs, so each participant is offered a choice of a partner.

Then there are cards with the written rules of active listening. Roles are distributed in pairs. One partner will be the "listener" and the second will be the "speaker". The task includes several successive stages, designed for a limited period of time. The facilitator tells you what to do, when to start the task, and when to finish it.

So, the first stage is that the “speaker” for five minutes tells his partner in a couple about the difficulties of his personal life, problems in interaction with others. The “speaker” must pay particular attention to the qualities that cause such difficulties. At this time, the “listener” must follow the rules of active listening, thereby helping the other person to talk about himself. The host stops communication in five minutes. Further, the “speaker” is invited to tell the “listener” within one minute, which helps to open up and freely talk about his life, and that, on the contrary, made such a story difficult. It is important to take this stage seriously, because so the “listener” can figure out for himself what he is doing wrong.

After a minute the leader gives the second task. For five minutes, the “speaker” should tell the partner in a couple about the strengths of his personality in communication, which helps him to establish interaction, build relationships with other subjects. The “listener” must again actively listen, using certain rules and techniques and taking into account the information received from his partner during the previous minute.

After five minutes, the presenter stops communication and offers the third stage. Now the “listener” should tell the “speaker” in five minutes what he remembered and understood for himself from two partner's stories about himself. At this time, the “speaker” must be silent and only with head movements indicate whether he expresses agreement with what the “listener” says or not. If the “speaker” indicates that the partner did not understand him, then the “listener” corrects himself until the “speaker” nods, confirming the correctness of the words. After the end of the “hearer's” story, his partner may notice what has been distorted or missed.

The second part of the exercise involves changing the roles of the "hearer" to the "speaker" and vice versa. These stages are repeated, but at the same time the leader each time starts a new stage, gives the task and finishes it.

The final stage will be a joint discussion of which role would be harder, which methods of active listening were easier to perform, and which, on the contrary, were more difficult, harder to talk about, difficulties in communicating or about strengths, what partners felt as a “speaker”, what impact the various actions of the “hearer” had.

As a result of this exercise, the ability to listen to a communication partner is formed, and the barriers to listening are recognized, such as: assessment, desire to give advice, to tell something from past experience. Active listening skills will improve everyday interaction with people in their personal and public life. They are also indispensable assistants in the conduct of business, especially if it is associated with the scope of sales.