Empathic Listening: "The Hairy Eyebrow" and other essential communication skills. #1

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When it comes to relationships if I could only help my clients learn one skill it would be this: listening to hear

Whether you're a parent child spouse co-worker or friend the ability to listen,

Understand and show that you care is an essential building block to any relationship now

I'll be the first to tell you

I'm not a naturally good listener my family and friends probably wouldn't describe me as a great listener

But it is a skill that I've worked on and developed

Over time. and this episode of therapy in a nutshell is going to teach you some of the ways you can improve your listening skills

Empathic listening helps people be more open and less

Defensive and creates a space where people are able to understand their emotions better and resolve them. It improves collaborative problem-solving

It builds trust and helps people feel connected

and it facilitates the

Building of emotional intelligence; that is the ability to understand and express what it is you're feeling.

In order to become a better listener

There's a few skills you can actively practice while you're listening to other people

The first one is simply paying attention try to focus your mind and thoughts on what they're talking about

The second skill is what one of my professors called "shuttupping"

I mean just stop talking. Talking a lot obviously gets in the way of your ability to be a good listener

I once heard this described as using the "hairy eyeball" so when someone says something you kind of lift your eye, okay?

I'm terrible with this, but you you just look interested in what they're saying and they're gonna keep talking

You don't have to say a lot of things another important step is providing a positive atmosphere using your body language, so

Opening yourself up. You're not crossing your arms or looking down at the ground. You know you look at them

you know you just open yourself up to people you can give nonverbal encouragement like head nodding and kind of matching the speaker if

they're pacing back and forth you you watch them, and you you move with them and

You can also invite people to say more by saying things like Oh

Tell me more or oh I'd like to hear more about that or what happened another really essential skill of good listening is

Listening for the deeper meaning of what they're talking about and when you can reflect that back to them it helps them feel understood

So a child comes home from school and had a rough rough experience with homework

And if you just engage about the homework, you know they say oh, I'm no good at math

Then you getting you know a discussion about the homework. "No you can do math" "here

Let me show you here's how to do this problem"

"Let me fix this" then you're completely ignoring what the child is feeling which is maybe you know a little bit down or discouraged

So stopping to acknowledge and say "okay, I can see that you're feeling discouraged"

"This is hard" can help them feel like you're on the same page with them and like you understand them

Now you might not be a good listener if you're doing the following things

And I think a lot of us don't realize it when we're doing these things that

They interfere with our ability to listen or to help the other person feel like we understand them, so good listening is not

Agreeing or disagreeing. You don't have to agree with

Someone to listen to them, and I think a lot of people get caught up in that. Remember our goal is to start with just

Understanding them. Good listening is not giving advice or teaching. It's not

Problem-solving, it's not saying "Well look. It's gonna get better tomorrow." Or "Don't worry. It's all gonna be okay." Don't ask a lot of questions

That's you directing the conversation and sometimes makes the the person who's speaking feel like they're being grilled or

interrogated. Problem solving for the other person can often feel like discounting their feelings if you say things like

"It's not that bad" or "If you only did this that would fix it it" interferes with their ability to feel understood

Saying things like "Oh, I understand" or "You think that's bad. Let me tell you about something that happened to me"

can really get in the way of helping another person feel understood. Anytime

You're trying to change them or convince them of something or sway their opinion

That's an indication that you're not doing a good job listening. Now

This is where a lot of people get their undies all in a bundle about listening skills. They get really frustrated

They say to me "Well what you're saying

I can never give advice or I can't help someone?" and that's not the case of course. There's a time for advice giving

There's a time for empathizing by saying. "Oh, you know what that happened to me once." There's a time to

Encourage someone or to teach them math, but that's just it's not listening

What I'm saying is you start with listening you start with understanding

You start with acknowledging them and checking to see if you acknowledge them, and you're understanding them, so you might say things like

"So what you're saying is you feel like your teacher doesn't get you?" or

"You're having a hard time listening to your teacher?" and you clarify and then they maybe say "Yeah

that's it" or they say "No. No that's not the problem, the problem

Is ..." and by doing that step you get to a place where you're both on the same page,

and they know that you understand them and after that if there is a need to give advice or

Try to share your opinion or change their mind there might be room for that after but it always works better

After that firm foundation of understanding that they know you understand them. Good listening is hard

But it's hardest what the people were closest to that's because when they share something that makes them feel sad or hurt or upset

We feel that same pain and those same emotions

So we often are quick to jump in and try and fix things for them, or if they're expressing something about us

We tend to be more defensive because we have a stronger emotional

Reaction to them. So when we're jumping in to fix something

Or we're jumping in with advice it might not be because we're trying to help them feel better

But because we're trying to relieve our own discomfort that means in those times

we have to work twice as hard to use our good listening skills and

Not immediately try to fix the problem

Even if you have a really good conversation with someone and you're able to share your points of view

But they don't agree with you at the end at the very least they'll feel like you understand them

And that's a valuable step forward. Now if you'd like to practice this go out there and try and have a five-minute conversation with someone

Without asking questions, giving advice or talking about yourself. This can be quite challenging, but it's a skill that can be developed.

Now one last caveat: if

all you're doing is using these listening skills as a way to try and convince or change someone else so you think "Well if I'm

A better listener I can convince that person to change."

Then this is all going to backfire you people can feel our intentions

They can tell if we actually care

Or if we're just acting like we're listening or if we're just using some skill on them especially

Teenagers are really good at sniffing out when we're using some new skill so make sure when you go in to listen to someone you

Get your heart in the right place and you try to focus your energy on caring about them, and what they have to say

So thanks for watching. Hope this is helpful take care