Demonstrating Listening

Multitasking. This is one of those situations where the research and anecdotal evidence wildly diverge. While researchers are publishing study after study which indicate multitasking is not an effective way of operating, most people feel like this is not the case.

Many of the children who attend the Kids Cooperate social skills groups have been told more times than they can count to "stop what they are doing and listen". This can be frustrating because they feel capable of absorbing information while doing something different with their hands or looking at something other than the speaker. 

In group this week we talked about the difference between listening, and demonstrating listening. Demonstrating listening has nothing to do with absorbing information, and everything to do with making the person who is speaking to you feel heard and appreciated. 

Demonstrating listening has three parts:

1. Eye contact (make it).

2. Body language ( trunk oriented toward the person who is speaking, occasional affirmative head nods).

3. Reflective responses (occasional affirmative sounds, or clarifying questions).

It is also worth noting that demonstrating listening does not imply agreement or consent. It is often tempting to show our displeasure with what someone is saying by appearing uninterested or inattentive, but in fact someone is much more likely to hear your critique when they feel that they have been heard and understood.