So far we have explored Active Listening through the skills of attending (Issues 7 – 11). Whilst attending is always our first step in engaging in Active Listening, the process would be rather futile if sitting in silence was all we did, no matter how perceptive we were.
Active Listening is as much about how we respond to our clients’ communications as it is about how we attend to our clients’ communications… this may be in part why this form of listening is called Active not Passive Listening.
Helpful Responses in the Active Listening Process
We can engage in both helpful and unhelpful responses when we listen to our clients. Our responses to our clients’ disclosures have the capacity to keep the talk about the client and their experiences or start to make it about us (what we know, what we what them to do and all that jazz). Our responses have the capacity to close the exploratory conversation down or open the exploring up. Our responses can enhance safety and acceptance or invite a subtle tone of expectation or even judgement.
No prizes for guessing which of those options is more helpful!
For this issue I’d like to briefly explore helpful responses in three rough categories. Read on to understand more and what these responding categories may sound like in session with a client..