Active listening is a technique counsellors use, but it can also be used by anyone.
The aim is to listen to the person talking.
Well not really.
Try it? Do you remember the last thing you listened to? Can you recall what the radio just said, what song they just played? What advert was on TV? What did your partner say as they left home today?
The problem is our minds are so busy, thinking so many things, what time is my meeting, did I charge my phone, what is there to cook for dinner, do I need petrol, where are my keys, am I cold, have I booked the vets, when was the school trip, have I got the PE kit?
Not only that, but when we listen to a conversation we are usually thinking about how we are going to respond rather than just focusing on what is being said to us.
We are also not always looking at the person talking.
Active listening is trying to empty your mind of your own things, not thinking how you will respond, but hearing the words that are being said, listening to just those words, processing them, adding them together with the tone, body language, volume and delivery. Then pausing, replaying the key points in your mind. Now build your response to the sentence.
That is active listening. Focus on nothing but what is being said.
Its not an easy skill and takes a lot of practise.
Over the next few blogs I will discuss some more counselling techniques.