When tempers are rising, it can sometimes be difficult to spend time really communicating with family members during disagreements. However, when we listen to our partners and children during times of conflict we let them know that their opinion is important. It is essential that we give them our full attention and validate not only the content of their message but also the feelings behind it. Although we may not always agree with our children, by giving them the chance to speak and feel empowered in the conversation we are building their self-esteem and modeling communication skills that will lead to success later in life.

Here are ten blocks to listening that many of us often use. It can be helpful to be aware of your use of these blocks when communicating with your family:

  • Mind Reading: Assuming you know what the other person feels and thinks without asking.
  • Rehearsing: Planning what you want to say next and missing what is being said now.
  • Filtering: Listening only to things that are important or relevant to you and ignoring the rest (even if it’s important to the other person).
  • Judging: Evaluating the other person and what they say rather than really trying to understand how they see the world.
  • Daydreaming:  Getting caught in fantasies or memories while someone is talking to you.
  • Advising:  Looking for suggestions and solutions instead of listening and understanding.
  • Sparring:  Invalidating the other person by arguing and debating.
  • Being Right:  Resisting or ignoring any communication that suggests you are wrong or should change.
  • Derailing:  Flat out changing the subject as soon as you hear anything that bothers or threatens you.
  • Placating:  Agreeing too quickly (I know…you’re right… I’m sorry…) without really listening to the other person’s feelings or concerns.

~MINES HealthPsych Team