Posts tagged responding

Issue 13: What Do I Say Next? Responding; The Other side of Active Listening.

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..

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Issue 8: Working With Non-Verbal Messages

When we think about the data we collect when we listen, usually the first thing that comes to mind is the words that we hear. While this is of course essential, we are all familiar with the expression ‘Actions speak louder than words’. In the process of fully understanding the communications of another human being, it is well established that we privilege non-verbal messages over verbal. So, for this first issue on attending, it made sense to start with a discussion about attending to our clients’ non-verbal messages.

What are Non-Verbal Messages?

Often referred to broadly as ‘Body Language’, non-verbal messages may be considered in discernible parts. Egan in ‘The Skilled Helper’ defines these parts as:

Bodily Behaviour – posture, movement and gestures
Facial Expressions – self explanatory!
Vocal Behaviour – tone of voice, speed of speaking, pausing, volume of speech
Physiological Responses – often autonomic such as flushing, sweating or quickening of breath
Physical Characteristics – including appearance and body size (need to be used cautiously!)

To find out more about the usefulness of non-verbal messages in eating behaviour counselling and what working with these messages may sound like – read on!

Read Issue 8

#active listening #non-verbal messages #reflecting #responding

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Issue 4: The Power of Empathy in Effective Dietetic Counselling

To underscore the importance of the therapeutic relationship in quality Dietetic work I would like to share with you a message I received from Joanne Ikeda:

‘I very much appreciate Issue 3 of your newsletter. For over 20 years, I taught nutrition education and counseling to dietetics majors at the University of California, Berkeley. The very first thing I taught my students was the importance of establishing an effective helping relationship with clients. I am glad to see this reinforced in your newsletter.’
Joanne Ikeda, MA, RD, Nutritionist Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

In this Issue of Practice Pavestones I am going to be focusing in on one of the core attributes underpinning the formation of this effective helping relationship – Empathy. How does empathy play a role in practicing effective Dietetic counselling? Let’s to start this exploration by considering a recent real life scenario:

Dietitian: ‘Mary, I’m wondering as we near the end of your session today how it was for you to share with me the story of your ups and downs with eating so far?’

Mary: ‘It was good -…’

Dietitian: ..(gently) ……’Good?’

Mary: ‘Yeah you really understood where I was coming from. I think you can help me’

What Mary is really saying here is that the experience of being understood left her feeling that she could be helped.

This is the power of empathy in a nutshell. It enables a connection which sits in direct contrast to the sense of isolation that comes with a difficult problem. It is this isolation that often drives despair, shame and entrenchment of behaviours. With empathy, it is in our power to give our clients a new experience of relating to their problems. Can you hear the subtle motivational edge in Mary’s observation above? If this idea interests you, you are welcome to download the full issue….

Read Issue 4

#empathy #reflecting #responding

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