There are 4 basic kinds of active listening responses: reflective, probing, supportive and advising. Reflecting is repeating the message we heard to make sure we fully understood what the speaker meant. Probing is when we ask or more information; usually by asking questions. Supportive responses are when the listener relates to the speaker or their situation. Advising is when we offer new information to try to change the person’s view of their situation.
For example, if a person says ‘I don’t want to go to the dentist.”
- A reflective response would be: “You don’t like the dentist.”
- A probing response would be: “What is it about the dentist that makes you not want to go?”
- A supportive response would be: “Going to the dentist isn’t fun. I don’t blame you for not wanting to go.”
- An advising response would be: “Going to the dentist will help you keep you teeth healthy.”
It’s true that not everything we hear from other people is good for us. That’s why we must practice ignoring negative comments while listening to the positive input we get. We must create a habit of listening to our parents, teachers and mentors (as long as their words encourage our personal growth), even if we don’t like what they say. But when others talk badly about our efforts, or attempt to hurt us with their words, we must ignore them and move on to find a different voice to listen to.
When we are faced with a challenge in life, the first step in solving it is listening to the details that describe the situation. Sometimes the solution to the problem comes by listening! If people would just practice better listening skills, more relationships and family issues would be resolved. Remember that when people don’t pay attention to us, we feel neglected and unimportant. However, when they listen to us actively, we feel that they really care for us. Likewise, when we don’t listen to others, we’re telling them that they are not important to us. When we listen to them we are showing them respect, courtesy, and love.
Excerpts in this article were taken from the ATA Leadership Life Skill Books