Listen up! Healthy communication is essential in every relationship. Therapists and counselors use specific listening techniques to create optimal communication between them and their clients. By adopting some of these basic listening skills, you can show clients you care and that they matter. Before continuing, its important to clarify these techniques do not involve ensnaring clients into "the sunken place," or conditioning them to leave a positive review every time you ring a bell. The following tips are far more simple (and less nefarious) ways to improve your interactions with customers.
Squarely face the speaker. Position yourself to face directly across from the other person. Angling your body away can show they do not have your attention or that you do not wish to have the conversation altogether. Maintain an open posture. Crossed arms or legs can be interpreted as defensive or uninviting. Lean slightly toward the speaker to show you are engaged and interested. Provide eye contact. Diverting your gaze says you are nervous or uncomfortable with what you're hearing. (Sustained unbroken eye contact also not recommended). Finally, relax. If the other person sees you are calm, they will more likely be at ease. (Egan, 1986)
Listen to Understand
Validate Thoughts and Feelings
Egan, G. (1986), ‘The Skilled Helper’, 3rd Ed., Brooks/Cole, Belmont, California.