Avoiding Roadblocks in Listening

“Reflective Listening” is using  effective active listening skills, that encourage orderly communication and allow one to listen as objectively and un-coercively as possible to another who is speaking.
Reflective listening above all   – is about listening–  , and giving passive responses and reflection for clarification and encouragement…. as covered in the previous post:Reflective Listening for improved communication

Often when one is listening he or she feel compelled to respond. Without realizing, one is introducing his opinion, experiences, advice and assertions. these “Roadblocks” are statements by a listener that impede the progress of  reflective  listening. Learning to avoid and abstain from “Roadblocks” as much as one can, will make a person a better listener.

Roadblocks to Reflective Listening

Advising or Recommending
What I would do is…”        “What I think you should do is...
Perhaps, you should...”  “Let me suggest….” “I wouldn’t do….
Some would argue it is better to allow  a person to be his or her own problem solver. Giving an advice may make someone depend on advice, have an excuse if the advice another gives didn’t work out, or they may spend more time debating whether its good advise or not, rather than problem solve themselves.

Warning, Preaching, or Directing
You must...”     “You had better...”     “If you don’t …. then..
Its your responsibility…” “you have to…
These statements can make someone feel guilty or obliged,  and don’t encourage or clarify communicating.

Psychoanalyzing or Diagnosing
Your problem is…”              “What’s wrong with you is…
You don’t mean that…”        “What you need is
While it might clarify a speakers motive,  it may sound threating or confusing. and if one is wrong, it  simply impedes communication.

Lecturing and Logic
Do you realize”           “The fact is..”               “yes, but...
Lecturing and using logic is a good idea if you are debating or trying to get your point across, not so good for being objective and open to  listening.

Judging good or bad, Criticizing or Approving
you are just lazy      ”  “thats a good thing to do
Statements like this can make people feel inferior or dependent on someones value judgment. these statements can also cut off communication.

Reassuring or Excusing
Don’t worry...”           “you’ll feel better when...”   “You’ll be fine…
Reassuring isn’t  so bad. We want to make people feel better immediately with some words or reassurance. However,  as an active listener, one will probably  notice    that using reflect listening  (“you are feeling”..) is more encouraging and empathetic.

Closed or leading questions
wouldn’t it be best if”       “Do you  dislike that person...“?
A leading question leads the speaker to answer a particular way. Although direct ,they can interfere with the objectivity and neutrality of listening.

that happened to me once..“,         “that reminds me...
lets discuss it later
Simply says that one is not interested in listening, right now.

I took a training course in active and reflective listening skills some years ago, and like most people, I found it difficult not to use  these “Roadblocks”. while listening in a conversation. It just seem natural to talk of my experiences … and t sometimes that does  makes for good casual conversation.
However  when listening is  important, its ok to say nothing. If  one is compelled to say something, why not use reflecting and open ended question that are part of  listening skills . Sometimes what one abstains from saying is as important as what he or she  says.

This list of  “roadblocks ” are based on the work of Thomas Gordon‘s P.E.T. and L.E.T.


About chris
I write because I'm not good at it. I share because, writing without sharing seems empty. Thus, I write and share what I think is meaningful.

4 Responses to Avoiding Roadblocks in Listening

  1. Joss says:

    excellent post. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Jean Sager says:

    Hi. Just wanted to say that this post had so many get specifics to help with active listening. I like when specifics examples are given. Just note that I included links to two of your posts in my recent blog on listening. If you wanted me to change anything let me know. Have a great day, fellow blogger.

  3. chris says:

    Reblogged this on Pennsylvania Echoes and commented:

    Improving Listening Skills––

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