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Steps to Assertiveness: Active Listening

Articles to date have been exploring Assertiveness, it’s characteristics and offering some tips to help achieve this empowering Communication Style. Today; I’m going to discuss the importance of a respectful attitude. which is key to Assertiveness. An important elements in developing this, is applying Active listening Skills.

Listening, I mean really hearing can be challenging, especially in conflict situations, where we are often more concerned with having our say, as opposed to listening to our opponents point of view . This, as well as other tips for managing disputes is further discussed in my video interview on ‘Conflict Resolution. For now though lets explore the art of listening.

The Active Listener.
Listening? you might say? Sure I do that all the time. Actually; Listening, I mean Really listening, is a skill that takes a bit of practice. It was one of the first and possibly, most important skills that I learned when training to become a Psychotherapist. So; what does really hearing another require?A ctive  listening has two parts.

Tuning in on all levels:The first part of Active Listening is tuning into content. What’s been said, what’s not being said. Being aware of Tone of Voice, Body Language, Facial Expressions and identifying possible inconsistencies between these.

So; For instance; if someone snaps that they are “Fine!” but they frown and roll their eyes as they say it, you might want to check again! Saying something like: “I noticed when you said you were fine that you rolled your eyes, I just wanted to check with you that you are Ok? Is there anything else that you would like to discuss?” can be useful.

Show that you are tuned in on all levels: The second part of Active  listening relates to demonstrating interest through both your Verbal Language and Body Language.

Exercise:

    1. Think of a time when you didn’t feel heard, What was that like for you? What did your listener say or do, or not say or do for you to have this experience?
    2. Think of a time when you felt really heard and understood. How did your Listener demonstrate this?
    3. Based on your own experiences of feeling heard, Brainstorm some ways you can begin to improve your listening skills.

The above exercise is just a taster to get you thinking about the importance of listening to show respect and improve interactions.  It is a skill that can be learned and improved upon.  To develop Active listening requires combing specific information with specific strategies and practicing these over and over.

An example of some ways to show listening Verbally are, “Yes, ok, tell me more about, ah ha ect”. Showing interest through Body Language  would include making eye contact, head nodding and keeping an interested expression.

On Aspire Assertiveness Courses, we combine essential information with  participant exercises to help you perfect the art of listening. All details of our course is available in on our courses section at www.aspirecounselling.com