Last Updated 7 September, 2018

Learning to Listen

Rowan Berries

Rowan Berries
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How good are you at listening?

Colin thought he was a pretty good listener, but one simple exercise showed him how hard effective listening is. Read on and test yourself, as he looks back on his first experience on the COSCA Certificate in Counselling Skills.

The COSCA Certificate in Counselling Skills, delivered by Rowan, is for anybody who wants to improve their understanding of other people as well as themselves.

Certificate in Counselling Skills, Day One

Most people consider themselves pretty good listeners, after all we practice every time we have a conversation. It may come as no surprise that what we say when listening to others affects what the other person talks about.

Well of course it does!

However, are you aware of how much your response influences what they say next?

Try the following exercise:

  • Find a friend or colleague and ask them to talk to you for 5 minutes;
  • Your job is to respond to what they say without asking questions.

I found this exercise a revelation when I tried on the first day of COSCA's Counselling Skills Certificate. Up until then, I had no idea how much potentially useful information I missed when talking to others because of the questions I asked them.

We were only talking about what she had done that morning, but it was obvious to me, that I would not have heard the details that my fellow student wanted to tell me, if I had questioned her. If I had asked questions, I would have directed the conversation towards my interests, instead of hearing what was important to her.

Effective listening means:

  1. hearing what the speaker wants to tell you;
  2. acknowledging their story;
  3. and checking that you have understood it right.

It is a lot more difficult than you might think, but it's a skill everyone can learn! If part of your job is to understand other people's needs, then you owe it to yourself and your clients to become an Effective Listener. It really is a life changing skill.

The skills I learnt during the certificate were great for improving communication at work, but also for dealing with emotionally challenged family at home!

Student on the COSCA's Certificate in Counselling Skills

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