One of the many amazing things about recovery is the chance to make things right in your life, including repairing any relationships that may have been damaged or neglected during active addiction. A good first step is developing your listening skills or learning to become an “active” listener.
So what does this mean? Active listening means actually hearing what the other person is saying – not just what you want to hear or what you think a person is trying to say. And once you learn this skill, you’ll get more out of group and individual therapy and you’ll also improve your rapport, trust and understanding with loved ones.
5 Tips for Improving Your Listening Skills
It may take time, but a little awareness and practice can improve your listening skills. Here are a few tips:
- Be a parrot. Paraphrasing, or repeating what the other person is saying in your own words, is an active listening technique that helps people avoid any misunderstandings along the way.
- Choose your words carefully. It’s important to acknowledge your loved one’s thoughts and feelings and to let him or her know you are listening openly and with empathy. Try it by saying something like, “I know this is tough to talk about but I really appreciate your willingness to talk.”
- Don’t just wait to talk. We all get excited or feel the urge to interject once in a while, but a big part of being an active listener is learning to slow yourself down and pay attention to what the other person is saying – not just waiting for your turn to speak.
- Open your ears, mind and heart. Try not to pass judgment or discount another’s opinion before even hearing them out. Instead, listen to his or her point of view and give your loved one the space to share his or her thoughts or feelings.
- Put away your smartphone. Here’s a scary statistic: 92 percent of Americans keep their cell phones within arm’s distance, according to the Pew Research Center. You can’t really be listening if you’re glancing down at a text or scrolling through Instagram. Eye contact is key for active listening and effective communication during recovery and beyond.
Support for Families
A strong factor in long-term recovery and increased, sustained sobriety success is family involvement. With a range of family support services, we provide the clinical services necessary to heal relationships and restore your family’s dynamics. For more information, contact an Immersion Recovery Specialist today: 561.419.3349.