Tips for Parents
The Value of Active Listening
You can encourage meaningful conversation between you and your student by demonstrating active listening techniques. Some of the easiest ways to demonstrate that you are actively engaged in a conversation are:
Encouraging your student will convey your interest in what he is saying. You can do this by not agreeing or disagreeing, using neutral language, and varying your voice intonations. Examples of how you can demonstrate your encouragement are by asking, "Can you tell me more about..." or stating, "Let's see how we can change this..."
Clarifying what you have heard will help your student know that you are correctly interpreting her thought process plus it will help you gather more information. You can do this by asking questions and intentionally restating an inaccurate interpretation to force her to explain further. Examples of how you can get more clarification are by asking, "When did this happen?" or by stating, "What I heard you say is... Is this correct?"
Restating what you have heard will show your student that you are listening and understanding what he has said while helping you check for meaning and interpretation. You can do this by restating the basic ideas and facts your student shared. An example of how you can restate what you have heard is by asking, "So, you would like your roommate to give you more privacy, right?"
Reflecting feelings expressed will show your student that you understand how she feels, even if you do not agree. Your student will also better be able to evaluate her own feelings after hearing them expressed by someone else. You can do this by reflecting your student's basic feelings. An example of how you can reflect your student's feelings is by stating, "You seem very disappointed."
Summarizing the conversation you had with your student will help pull together important ideas and facts and establish a basis for further discussion. You can do this by restating the major ideas and themes expressed, including feelings. Examples of how you can do this are by stating, "These seem to be the key ideas you've expressed..." or by asking, "Now that you have sorted through your thoughts and feelings, what do you want to do next?"
Validating your student will help to acknowledge his worth. You can do this by valuing his issues and feelings and showing appreciation for his efforts and actions. An example of how you can validate your student is by stating, "I know this was a tough situation for you. I am really proud of your effort to..."
It may take awhile to get into the rhythm of communicating with your college student at this new stage of your relationship. Active listening is one of the keys to success.
Barriers to Effective Listening
No one is a perfect listener. Once you recognize those barriers to effective listening that you commonly engage in, you can work to better connect with your student.
Think about the following common barriers. Which ones do you find yourself doing most?
- Comparing: Thinking about who is better, smarter, funnier, etc.
- Mind Reading: Paying little attention to words, and instead imagining meaning.
- Rehearsing: Focusing your attention on what you will say next, rather than on what is being said.
- Filtering: Listening to some things but not others.
- Judging: Prejudging before you hear what the person has to say
- Dreaming: Half-listening and drifting into your own thoughts.
- Identifying: Relating everything you hear back to your own experience.
- Advising: Hearing only a few sentences and then giving advice
- Sparring: Arguing and debating every point
- Being Right: Going to any length to avoid being wrong.
- Derailing: Suddenly changing the subject.
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