By Amy Finley
My husband was born and spent his childhood in France, and you could say that from the moment we met, living in Paris, and fell in love, he wooed me with words. He'd speak French — really, he could have been describing the laundry — and my knees would positively buckle. Amour...chérie...fromage...
And then, as so often happens, life intervened.
Back home in the States, the stresses just accumulated like cascading dominoes over five years of marriage: two small children +...
Listening is an active process of thinking
about the meaning of the message that was heard. Sometimes two people do not
interpret what they hear in the same way. A person's interpretation may vary
according to personal values, beliefs, and past experiences.
Active listening requires the listener to check with the speaker to
make sure that the message is interpreted in the way it was intended. To listen
actively, a person needs to pay attention to the behaviors and tone of the
Active listening takes practice. When you want to actively listen to
Provide privacy. When a
person wants to talk about someone important to him or her, privacy may be
essential. Find a quiet corner if no private place is available and talk in a
low voice to help the person feel secure. Teens in particular need to feel that
their conversations about important matters are kept private and
Reduce distractions. When
listening to a person speak, turn off radios, televisions, and other noisy
devices. Remove any articles that may distract you or the speaker. Do not try
to do other things while you are listening.
Be present. Being present means listening to what the other person says and
accepting the other person's thoughts and feelings even when they are different
from yours. Being present also means not thinking about other things while the
person is talking and resisting any urge to interrupt, judge, or argue with the
speaker about his or her views.
Show that you are listening. Nod your head periodically and show your interest in what's
being said by saying "please continue," "yes," or "tell me more."
When actively listening to a teen, it is important to understand that
teens often think others are watching and judging them. They may need
reassurance that you are listening and that you are not judging them. It is
also important to be genuine with teens. They can spot an insincere adult. Do
not try to be a buddy with a teen. Teens do not like it when adults in their
lives try to act like teens themselves.
When listening to teens, pay close attention to how the teen is
describing the situation. Make a mental note if you think he or she does not
understand what is happening. When the timing seems right, clarify any
misunderstandings the teen has about the situation.