Active Listening, Positive Reinforcement, Perception, and Growth

16 07 2012

I know, that’s a lot for a title….LOL  But it is all things I want to talk about.  Hopefully my thoughts are clear, if not, ask.

I will include no disclaimers about my words…

Several thoughts on this subject have been popping around in my head.

I found this really good article on “Active Listening” from Wikipedia.  Type it in a search engine and take a look.

Most people, when they practice “active listening” tend to parrot back to the speaker what was said in order to move towards clarification of something from the speaker to the listener.  This is a useful skill in parenting, relationships, teaching, and working.  This helps with cutting down on misunderstandings of interpretations due to a number of reasons.  It can also help both parties take a step back from a volatile situation due to emotions popping up, triggers (look it up) being set off, old memories and other hindrances to listening to each other.

One of the things, I find, that is not practiced in learning “active listening” is the ability for people to not internalize, even after clarification, what they think the other person might have said due to their own personal, internal blocks.

Meaning, the problem will continue when the listener’s internal filters says:  “I heard what you said and I understand what you said but I know that’s not what you really meant.”

In this instance it is up to the listener to internally work towards understanding their problem because it is their problem.

I used to feel such guilt and responsibility that someone might possibly misunderstand even one word of what I said that I would use many clarifiers to insure that what they heard was pleasant and pleasing and wouldn’t leave them with any negative emotions.  My words became watered down and my convictions became not so convicted.  I had no stand on anything because of my perceptions on how the other person would be affected.

My responsibility…take ownership of what are my problems.  I am all about self-growth and exploration.  I love to learn about myself.  I take full responsibility for my growth and I know when something is not right due to my own internal issues.  I become more me when I become more authentic.  I accept my flaws and know when they are just that, my flaws.  I was out talking with hubby, having an impromptu date night, all of a sudden I started hearing us speak to each other.  It was like one of those out of body for clarity type moments.  I heard us both making disclaimers to each other while we were talking.  I don’t even know when we started doing this.  It just struck me so hard that I stopped talking and I said to him I don’t know when conversations with us became so hard.  When did we have to start apologizing to each other in order to make the other feel good?  I said, “I am not doing that anymore.”  In my mind, at that moment, we became the adults that we both are.  My responsibility in that moment became to treat him as an adult that does not need to be spoon fed anything and also releasing him from whatever feelings he might have of needing to do that to me.  I am not going to assume anymore that he misunderstood my words because trying to clarify something that you think the other person misunderstood or might accept the wrong way will lead to both of you doing this:

Person 1:  I’m sorry, I only meant by my words (insert explanation here)

Person 2:  I understood what you said.  I wanted to let you know that (insert explanation here)

Person 1:  Oh yeah, I got that.  I just wanted to make sure you heard (insert explanation here)

And this can go on and on before you both realize that you don’t even remember what you are clarifying, you don’t remember what you were talking about, and you are both left with this sort of WTF just happened sort of feeling.

In that moment you disconnect from each other.  You stop becoming “one” in the sense of being together in the relationship and start becoming two people in a relationship.

This is not a killer in relationships because with realization of the problem(s) comes growth.  Growth has to happen.  No relationship is static and no two people in a relationship can be static.  Static relationships lead to two people in a dead relationship.

So we move and we ebb and flow as people do. I love and I hate this relationship sometimes.  But it’s always worth the price of admission or submission, so to speak.

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