You may not know this, but I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). This is similar to some of your Professional Engineering (PE) licenses. Mine is also regulated by the State and requires regular continuing education. I still practice counseling every Friday afternoon via a virtual platform and still have an occasional face-to-face session with a client.
The most important skill of a good counselor is “listening.” Good listening requires much more energy and focus than most people realize. Listening is completely different than hearing. I can hear you speaking, but may not have a clue what you are saying because I am not listening. Listening is essential for counseling, but it is also a skill good leaders and consultants practice as well.
I want to introduce you to “active listening.” This is a specific type of listening that requires you to pay such close attention in your listening that you can effectively summarize the speaker’s message. Active listening captures not only the content of another person’s message but understands the emotions and motivations driving their message. Here are the basics of “active listening.”
These tips help your brain to listen more effectively. The best time to practice active listening is when the conversation is conflicted and laced with negative emotions. Conflict makes active listening very difficult because you may be frustrated, angry, disappointed, or any other number of negative emotions. This makes you defensive and combative. However, practicing active listening in the most difficult conversations will prove to lower the tensions, keep you on track toward a solution and keep you connected to the other person when it is most critical!
Gabe Lett, FSMPS, CPSM, LPC