How to Improve Communication with Effective Listening Skills

For a relationship to thrive, effective communication is essential. But in today’s fast-paced world, we want instant gratification, and our relationships often wind up suffering as a result. Far too often, we find ourselves focusing on what we have to say, rather than turning our attention to listening to our partners and loved ones.

Philadelphia Relationship Therapist

Dr. Eric Levin, PhD, a highly experienced and expertly trained relationship therapist in Philadelphia, PA, has successfully transformed the communication styles of countless couples.

A breakdown in communication is often a contributing factor for divorce, and more than half of women who are headed for divorce say that their husband’s lack of listening is their primary communication complaint.

Improving your listening skills can nurture good communication and minimize conflicts.

3 Types of Listening Skills

There are three primary types of listening skills: active, critical and reflective. How and when you choose to employ these skills will depend on the situation at hand.

Active Listening

Just as its name suggests, active listening requires you to take an active approach to listening to the speaker’s message. This means repeating what the speaker said in your own words. You may also express your own understanding of the speaker’s emotional response.

Example: I understand you’re upset that I took the car without asking.

It’s important to try and avoid being judgmental while the speaker is speaking. You may find yourself becoming distracted by your own thoughts, or dwelling on what you’re going to say. However, for active listening to be effective, you must focus your full attention on the speaker.

Critical Listening

Critical listening is typically employed when problems need to be solved or decisions need to be made. Unlike active listening, critical listening requires you to use personal judgment. This type of listening is best applied in business and academic situations where the goal is to gather accurate information, compare it to existing information, and apply it to new situations.

Critical listeners ask questions about the validity and logic of information. Due to the nature of this type of listening, it’s best applied when the speaker and listener can put their emotions aside to deliver the expected results.

Reflective Listening

Like active listening, reflective listening requires the listener to give the speaker his or her full attention. It also requires you to use your nonverbal communication skills, or body language, and to ask questions to clarify or confirm ideas. But instead of expressing what you believe the speaker is saying or feeling, reflective listening requires you to reflect the speaker’s emotions.

The ultimate goal with reflective listening is to provide the speaker with support while trying to understand his or her perspective.

Taking a reflective approach can be critical in business, romantic and social relationships. It’s important to avoid passing judgment when listening to the speaker, and to put your emotions aside to empathize with the speaker.

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Improving your listening skills will foster positive communication between you and your partner, friend, child or family member. Apply these 3 types of listening skills where appropriate to help your relationships thrive and grow.

Contact Eric Levin today by calling (215) 792-6692!

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