Carole Blog #8                   

Working with other adults


Non-judgemental listening. The key to listening without judgement is to listen empathetically. Empathetic listening means putting yourself in the shoes of the speaker. Parents and friends who listen empathetically can offer a sounding board for others, inviting more confidence and better communication.

Just a quick note on Empathy and Sympathy. Empathy, the ability to feel what another person is feeling — literally “walk a mile in their shoes” — goes beyond sympathy, a simple expression of concern for another person’s misfortune.

Be aware of your judgements. Most people don’t set out to be intentionally judgemental, but it’s a natural instinct to do so. You have your preconceived notions of how the world should work and what people should do. When you listen to someone talk, you automatically compare what comes out of the person’s mouth with the ideas that are ingrained in your mind.

Knowing your mind naturally makes judgements is the start of breaking the cycle. Set out to intentionally listen without making assumptions. If you notice yourself thinking the person is wrong or should do something differently, calm that inner voice and refocus on what the person is saying. This isn’t easy and takes practice, so don’t give up if you find it difficult.

Use Active Listening Skills. Very often, people only half listen to the person who is talking. Instead of fully engaging, you’re already making judgements and thinking of how you’re going to respond. You may miss out on important details or subtle hints that give more information about what the person is saying.

Improve your active listening skills, so you can focus completely on the message without jumping to conclusions while the other person talks. Hold eye contact with the person. Listen without interrupting or offering solutions. Try to imagine how the speaker feels, picking up on subtle hints and nonverbal clues to understand the emotions involved. If you’re unclear on something, wait until the speaker pauses before asking

Consider Your Own Flaws. It’s easy to judge other people when you think they’re making the wrong choice. Everything seems black and white when you aren’t personally and emotionally invested in the situation. No one makes right decisions all the time. Everyone has lapses in judgement or gets caught up in the emotion of situations. If you find yourself judging someone else who is talking about a problem, remind yourself that you’ve been in plenty of situations in which others could have judged you. Remembering that the person you’re talking to is a human just like you will help you withhold judgement.

But in all this remember – BE KIND.


Carole O’Donnell
DCC People