Dr. Patrick J. DiVietri Ph.D. CPC, OCDS
Willing and attentive listening is the central dynamic of communication skills. The primary concern is the speaker and what he or she is trying to communicate. Listening enables one to see situations more clearly and thus help another person.
We know that one’s emotional disposition improves from being understood. When something is expressed its intensity lessens. Solutions become clearer when someone else listens to the problem.
Good listening facilitates better understanding. This enables someone to respond in a way that shows he/she understands. New information and opinion are secondary to understanding what the other person is saying.
Listening expresses love for the other person.
Listening shows the importance and value of the other person. It is a form of courtesy and respect. We can easily see the therapeutic value that it has when we consider that the counseling profession is dominated by this one dynamic. People come to a counselor so that they can find understanding. The counselor listens with the major objective of grasping what the client is saying. This principle dynamic begins to assuage the stress that the client is experiencing. It helps when one can express themselves, can be understood by another, and that the other person can put that understanding into their own words.
Listening well acknowledges a respect for human dignity.
We can show that the person is worthy of our full attention and all else seems secondary at the moment. When my son was very young he would approach his mother or me as we were focusing upon something else and want to talk to us. However, he would not begin speaking until he had our full attention. To accomplish this, he would place his little hands on both sides of our face and turn our heads toward him so that he could look us square in the eye. If we slipped back, he would repeat this. He tended not to do this in front of others so there wasn’t any reason to correct him for interrupting and he was so sincere and what he was asking for was simple. “I want your attention. What I have to say is important.” He was right. It was important because he was important to me.
A further example is obvious to married couples. If a woman has something to say, she is rarely impressed with her husband’s allocation of some cursory portion of his attention while he is preoccupied with the TV or the newspaper. Women and children have a gift for reducing something to its simplest form. “What is more important to you, what you are doing or me?” “If it is me, then show it.” However, when it comes to love and what is valued, actions still speak more loudly than words. It is important to express one’s devotion with words but those words must be demonstrated through affection and actions. The first act of love is attentiveness.