The Art of Listening: 3 Steps To Becoming A Better Listener

The Art of Listening: 3 Steps To Becoming A Better Listener

How many times when you're speaking to a friend or spouse do you speak over them? I'm guessing you think "not very often." I certainly did, not only among my friends but among my patients.

But recently I did an experiment. In an effort to improve my listening skills in therapy, I started to note all the times I interrupted a patient during a session. Like most people, I thought too highly of myself and my own abilities! Surely I'd find that I rarely interrupted people. I'm a therapist after all. That means I'm a great listener. 

As you can probably guess, I interrupted my patients far more often than I'd like to admit. Some of it was necessary. I can think of a few people who tend to shame themselves often, and the need to interrupt that kind of thinking is often necessary. But often it wasn't. It was hardly malicious. Often I just had a comment on something they said, and I didn't wait till they were done. 

But interrupting was not a good thing. At its best, I was adding to the conversation but stunting a complete thought from my patient. At it's worse I was not letting my patient be heard. This had to change.