Active listening – part 3 – alternatives to roadblocks.

// WERSJA POLSKA TUTAJ //

Hey!

Today’s post is a continuation of a part one – CLICK – and part two – CLICK. Someone commented one of those posts saying that it’d be cool for me to give you guys some examples of alternatives to each roadblock I talked about. I thought it was a good idea and I think it’ll be a good summation. It’s been a while but… You know how it is 😉

Below you can find each of the roadblocks, below each one there are short examples and below them a typical dialogue (#1) and then active listening as an alternative (#2). I added some short comments to each one but I won’t explain it completely because I already did in in THIS post so I invite you to check it out so to avoid any misunderstandings. If you have any questions or doubts – feel free to post them in comments because as you know – I like to discuss whatever it is. If I feel like it of course 🙂

Everything is mostly about children who just started to learn about the whole world around them and their personality and opinions are based on their knowledge and people they’re with – this is what I talk about here mostly! I’d like to highlight the fact that all the posts in this series are about all the people, not only children, who were children a while ago but who have all the experiences in their heads and even though it’s impossible to change it, it’s still possible to help!

Let’s go!

1. Commands:
– Stop feeling sorry for yourself!
– Don’t say that!
– You can’t do that, go there and say you’re sorry!

Comment: ignoring a state a child is in; not accepting his feelings; not letting him to express his emotions and to be honest; teaching.

Dialogue #1
Girl: [crying and yelling] Mom, Maciek said that I’m ugly so I told him he’s stupid and to butt off! I was very sad and I feel hopeless.
Mom: Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You can’t say things like that!
Girl: But he started this!
Mom: I told you something! Go and apologize him. You can never say such rude things to anyone!

Dialogue #2
Girl: [crying and yelling] Mom, Maciek said that I’m ugly so I told him he’s stupid and to butt off! I was very sad and I feel hopeless.
Mom: You really didn’t like that Maciek said!
Girl: Not at all! I was sad and I wanted to hurt him too!
Mom: Ohh, so you were sad when he said that you’re ugly and so you wanted him to pay for that and to show him how it feels when you tell someone something like this.
Girl: Yes! Good. [smiling]
Mom: You’re happy you did it!
Girl: Yep… But now he’s sad. I think I’ll go to see him…2. Warnings, threatening:
– You’ll never find a job if you don’t study.
– You better stop crying because or else…
– If you keep doing this, nobody will like you.

Comment: not accepting a child and/or his behavior what may cause being afraid of sharing anything with a parent; a fear of not being accepted and that one’s feelings aren’t important at all and so it’s better to hide them instead of having problems later.

Dialogue #1
Boy: I hate this school and how much homework they give us! I’m not doing my homework today.
Dad: You are to go to your room and do your homework, this is your responsibility! And you better stop acting like this or else you’ll be grounded.
Boy: But dad, I don’t even need it and I’ll never do!
Dad: OK, just ignore school all together but if you keep doing this, you’ll end up cleaning streets! Although, it’s possible you’ll need your finals to even clean streets so you won’t get even a job like this!
Dialogue #2
Boy: I hate this school and how much homework they give us! I’m not doing my homework today.
Dad: You’re fed up with school and you’re not going to do your homework today!
Boy: Yes, I don’t need that and I’ll never do.
Dad: You figured you don’t need it and you will never do so it’s obvious that you don’t see any sense in doing it.
Boy: Exactly! You understand me completely!
3. Morals, preaching, lectures:
– Life is brutal, you can’t change it!
– You shouldn’t worry so much.
– This is your responsibility/you ought to…Comment: a complete ignorance of another person and her problems and feelings; showing a lack of faith in one’s capabilities; causing being defensive in another person.

Dialogue #1

Wife: Nothing has been working since the morning! Everything is wrong. I need to go out in a minute and either make up is fine or my hair looks good. I’d rather stay in bed and spend there the whole day!
Husband: Don’t dramatize! This is life – not everything is always perfect.
Wife: It’s easy to say for you! I have an important meeting today and I’m already nervous and about to cry because you don’t even want to support me!
Husband: Oh, you shouldn’t worry so much. Take a deep breath and do what you should.
Dalogue #2
Wife: Nothing has been working since the morning! Everything is wrong. I need to go out in a minute and either make up is fine or my hair looks good. I’d rather stay in bed and spend there the whole day!
Husband: I see you’re very frustrated! You barely got up and you already meet all these problems so you don’t even feel like going out.
Wife: Yes! I hope the meeting will go well at least…
Husband: You’d like this meeting to go well after this not pleasant morning!
4. Advice, ready solutions:
– I think this is a better way…
– Have you maybe tried…
– If you do it this way…, it’ll be better.Comment: not believing that another person is able to solve her own problem, thinking she’s stupid, not experienced, etc.; taking an opportunity to independent thinking away from this person.

Dialogue #1
Sister: OK, I have no idea how to do it… I completely don’t know anything for my exam because I truly have problems with physics and I really don’t want to go there and get another F and cry again. I’m going to stay home today!
Brother: I think it’ll be better for you to go instead of having arrears and then thinking of ways how to catch up.
Sister: But I prefer to have one day like this than to feel embarrassed after the class when everyone will talk about results and I won’t know anything!
Brother: Did you have any private lessons or something? If not, you should do it because then you’ll know more. I think it’s a good idea to have someone to help you now.

Dialogue #2
Sister: OK, I have no idea how to do it… I completely don’t know anything for my exam because I truly have problems with physics and I really don’t want to go there and get another F and cry again. I’m going to stay home today!
Brother: You figured it’s a better idea to stay home than to go to school and experience more disappointments and sadness because of another F you might get.
Sister: Yes, this is not a cool feeling. But if I don’t go, I’ll miss the whole day and I’ll have to take this exam sooner or later.
Brother: Hmm, so on one hand you don’t want to go to avoid this exam and on the other one you figured if you don’t go today, you’ll still have to take it later and moreover, you’ll have one missed day.
Sister: Okay… I think I’ll go. In worst case I won’t talk to anyone after the class.5. Logic arguments, arguing:
– Yes but…
– You’re not right because…
– Facts say…

Comment: telling another person she’s lying; causing an argument; ignoring another person’s mind; causing a feeling of feeling worse.

Dialogue #1
Grandmother: And so I went there and the doctor told me he wouldn’t see me because I wasn’t sick enough!
Grandfather: What are you talking about. I’m sure he didn’t say that.
Grandmother: I’m telling you, I remember!
Grandfather: Yes but he surely meant something different. He can’t say things like that.

Dialogue #2
Grandmother: And so I went there and the doctor told me he wouldn’t see me because I wasn’t sick enough!
Grandfather: He said you were not sick enough?! You seem annoyed because of that!
Grandmother: Yes because what kind of a condition should I be in so he would want to see me? I should bleed from all the holes I have?!
Grandfather: You’re not sure what he meant! You think you’d have to be visibly hurt so he’d want to see you then.

6. Criticism, judging, vilification, disagreeing:
– You’re just lazy!
– It’s your fault.
– You’re not right.

Comment: everything is a fault of a person with a problem; there’s something wrong with this person; causing another person to close herself and not to want to share; showing a lack of acceptance and support.

Dialogue #1
Child: I got a F from my exam because I was so tired that I wasn’t able to focus.
Mom: You, tired! You’re lazy and it’s your fault you got F – you didn’t study enough. I don’t agree that you’re tired, by what?!

Dialogue #2
Child: I got a F from my exam because I was so tired that I wasn’t able to focus.
Mom: I understand, you feel tired and it’s obvious it’s hard for you to focus when you feel like that!

7. Praising:
– You’re a good girl!
– You’re doing a good job.
– You’re absolutely right.

Comment: showing that a child is good/nice/cute only when he does whatever his parents want him to; putting high expectations and standards on a child; manipulation; training (when you train a dog you give him some goodies when he does something you want him to – I see praising children in the same way including all the rewards like stickers, candies or words like “you’re such a good boy” and I name things the way I see them – people train their children in the same way like others train their dogs or animals in a circus).

Dialogue #1
Mom: Antek, I’d like you to clean from the table.
(…)
Son (7yo): Mom, I cleaned the table, like you wanted.
Mom: You’re such a nice and great boy because you did what you wanted me to do and you didn’t even want to say “later” or anything! Here you have a candy as a reward!

Dialogue #2
Mom: Antek, I’d like you to clean the table because I’m very tired after the whole day and I’m truly dreaming of sitting down and not doing anything for a while.
(…)
Son: Mom, I cleaned the table, as you asked.
Mom: The fact that you cleaned the table means that I can rest now and I don’t have to work anymore so I appreciate it!8. Ridicule, name-calling, embarrassing:
– You should be ashamed!
– You’re such a baby…
– Worrying about this is stupid.

Comment: sending a message that a child isn’t worth anything, is stupid; causing a child to close himself; causing a fear in a child that he won’t be able to do anything by himself and will be dependent on others.

Dialogue #1
Girl: Daaaaaaaaaad, look! [crying; showing her mother’s cosmetics which she unwittingly dropped on the floor]
Dad: You’re such a slouch!
Girl: But I didn’t want to!
Dad: You’re acting like you can’t walk – you break something all the time. Clean it up.Dialogue #2
Girl: Daaaaaaaaaad, look! [crying; showing her mother’s cosmetics which she unwittingly dropped on the floor]
Dad: Make up stuff fell on the floor? You seem sad because of that!
Girl: Yes because these are mom’s favorites and I dropped them accidentally! What if she gets mad?
Dad: You’re afraid she’ll get mad at you.
Girl: Will you help me clean?

9. Analyzing: 
– You’re making a victim out of yourself.
– What you really mean is…
– Oh, you’re just bored.

Comment: ignoring another person’s problem and state he’s in; telling him that he’s not right with his own feelings; showing a lack of faith in that person; putting this person by the wall with no way out.

Dialogue #1
Boy: I mess up everything. I don’t feel like doing anything now.
Girl: Oh, you’re just looking for a reason to complain.
Boy: What? Not true! I feel bad and I wanted to share that!
Girl: You’re making a victim out of yourself.
Dialogue #2
Boy: I mess up everything. I don’t feel like doing anything now.
Girl: You don’t feel like doing anything since nothing really works!
Boy: Indeed. As if everything I touch, break…
Girl: So it doesn’t matter what you want to do – nothing you touch works!10. Comforting:
– Everything will be alright!
– Just smile!
– You’ll laugh at this in the future!

Comment: a complete ignoring another person in all the ways; showing that negative emotions are bad and you shouldn’t show them and you should smile and pretend everything is fine even though your heart is broken.

Dialogue #1
Aunt: You’re so sad and I’m worried about you.
Uncle: How can I not be sad? Not only that my mother died but also I lost my job.
Aunt: Everything will be fine, you’ll see! You’ll find a job soon and if it comes to your mom… I’m sorry but you now what people say – time heals wounds.
Uncle: Yea, it’s easy to say…

Dialogue #2
Aunt: You’re so sad and I’m worried about you.
Uncle: How can I not be sad? Not only that my mother died but also I lost my job.
Aunt: Everything fell on your head. Your mother died and you lost your job… You don’t really have any reasons to smile.
Uncle: Exactly.

11. Asking questions:
– Why did you do it?
– You really want to say that?
– What did you do?

Comment: manipulating another person and directing her in the way you’ll hear an answer you wait for; hiding your own emotions; intimidation.

Dialogue #1
Child: [hit her hand and now she’s crying loudly]
Dad: Why are you so rude?!
Child: I hit my hand! It hurts!
Dad: Why don’t you sit down quietly and calm down?!Dialogue #2
Child: [hit her hand and now she’s crying loudly]
Dad: Oh, you’re ok?! You hit your hand?
Child: Yes, it hurts a lot!
Dad: I see you’re suffering a lot!

12. Distraction, withdrawal, sarcasm:
– Let’s talk about something more pleasant.
– Your story reminds me of…
– Maybe just become a president!

Comment: sending a message that the girl should avoid all the problems, she should pretend that they don’t exist; showing that her problems don’t matter; showing a lack of interest in another person; causing a situation in which there will be no solution for a problem which is ignored.

Dialogue #1
Girl: Mother’s Day is coming… I miss my mom so much! [tears in her eyes] I’d give her flowers every day, not only once a year.
Friend: Ehh… This reminds me about my friend who…
Girl: [stopped talking]
Friend: But hey, let’s not be sad, let’s talk about something more pleasant! How was the party?

Dialogue #2
Girl: Mother’s Day is coming… I miss my mom so much! [tears in her eyes] I’d give her flowers every day, not only once a year.
Friend: You’re sad because you miss your mom… You’d like to show her everyday that you love her!
Girl: Yes… And the only thing I can do is going to a cemetery and I’d like much more.
Friend: Going to the cemetery is not enough for you at all.Please note!
It’s OK to use active listening not only when you have a problem but also when you’re happy/excited/etc., for example:
– OMG OMG, he invited me for a date!
– You’re very excited about this!
or when we want to make sure we understand what another person is saying to us, for example:
– And so his father’s mother said that their aunt bought this dog which owners killed those two cats which I learned about from my friend’s sister. And I feel so sorry for this girl who saw all that!
– Wait… So you’re saying that…?

That’s all for now. I hope I gave you as much information as you needed! Any opinions?

Talk to you next time,
Aga

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