What has THAT got to do with Counseling

In one way or another, we have encountered and/or studied something about counseling. We have then been told how important, in fact crucial, counseling is to a successful real estate practice. But alas, the most important ingredient to effective counseling is often glossed over, underrated or just plain forgotten – LISTENING. But what has THAT got to do with counseling?! Listening is the crux to counseling. Listening is getting the whole story, not just hearing what we want to hear. Listening is the easiest way to recognize needs and discover facts. Listening is an art. It is the rhythm or talk and the time needed to absorb what has been said in order to formulate an intelligent, aware reply. In counseling, the reply is usually in the form of a question. When we apply ourselves to the sounds we hear in search of their meaning and significance, we LISTEN. One can hear, but when we care, we listen.

Most of us yearn for someone who will listen with understanding. That can’t be accomplished when we are waiting for our turn to talk. Creating an environment and attitude where we can listen is a manifestation of our commitment to the speaker. Real listening demonstrates acceptance and forgiveness for guilt. Listening is a vent for anger. Listening is sympathy for grief. Listening is the sharing of one’s joy. Finally, listening contributes to the comfort and well-being of another individual.
There are certain keys to effective listening. Listening is both active and discriminatory. To listen and learn requires us to look for the main points and then direct our thoughts to the conclusion that can be drawn from them. It takes practice. By concentrating our thoughts, superfluous conversation tends to be eliminated.

Active listening requires us to separate fact from fiction. This is not an easy chore, but is developed through experience and intuition. To obtain the whole story necessitates listening between the lines. Establish the habit of asking yourself, “What’s the speaker actually saying?” Be a bit selfish. “Is what I am hearing productive, helpful or revealing? Will it allow me or them an opportunity to better the situation?” If not, break the conversation, through questions, and redirect it to a more rewarding end.
Listen beyond the mere words. Seek to understand the speakers’feelings as well as their meaning. This approach will heighten our analysis of what is being said and prepares us for a more useful kind of feedback. As long as we can’t see another person’s inner world — and we generally can’t — we are unable to obtain an indication of what emotional reaction will arise in any situation without LISTENING. This is why face-to-face counseling of clients and negotiations with other brokers and agents is critical.

In dealing with people’s emotions and beliefs, encourage expression. When we sense emotions and beliefs, stop presenting reason and concentrate on getting the other person to express themselves. Avoid telling them what their emotions are and whether their beliefs are right or wrong. Get them to talk about their feelings and beliefs. They will become more themselves. Accept emotions without criticizing them or assuming a common experience in our life was exactly the same. “I know how you feel.” We never know how anyone feels. Talking about feelings not only diminishes tension, but enables a more realistic appraisal of a problem. Accepting the speaker’s point of view does not mean agreeing with it, but the speaker in revealing himself feels freer since we understand that a certain amount of irrationality is acceptable and normal in everyone’s behavior. “I can appreciate your being anxious about the size of the loan. I recognize your reluctance to spend all those savings. I can understand your apprehension to move forward. I have had similar concerns when…” We become believable when it appears to others that we are vulnerable.

Listening involves empathy. Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another person’s place and understand where that person is coming from. It means stopping ourselves from working on counter points or arguments while another is speaking. Exercising empathy in listening is remembering a similar experience but not participating again in the emotions of it.

To achieve positive and effective communication demands that every aspect of our demeanor says — I WILL LISTEN, TELL ME MORE! Effective speaking is in direct correlation to listening responsibly. Understanding allows us to master listening.

The supreme act of commitment to one’s fellow man can be envisioned in many ways: it may be seen as a willingness to listen. Listening is the one concession we can give that is guaranteed to get us more than we give. To be an effective communicator behooves us to be responsible for the listening of others. Being a good communicator requires ruthless self-evaluation. Concentrated listening is giving honor to the speaker. What has THAT got to do with counseling? EVERYTHING!

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  1. […] us that although times have changed, many things remain the same; Jim Brondino illustrates why listening is the most important part of counseling; and Steve England demonstrates how real estate brokers can sometimes get in the […]