#058 – Listening Matters

Listening is one of the secret weapons for communicating and building relationships. As parents, we often don’t listen very well. In this episode Vicki and Lynn talk about why our students sometimes tune us out and some of the listening habits parents fall into that can become barriers to communication. We share some tips and suggestions and new ways of thinking about this undervalued skill. Good listening takes effort and practice, but you will be able to help your student feel heard and empowered.

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We took a deep dive in this episode into the art of listening. As a communication professor, Vicki teaches her students about listening but both Vicki and Lynn admitted that they haven’t always applied what they know about listening and principles that they use with their students and colleagues to the kids. We think this may be true for many parents.

Vicki shared some insights and tips about both being a better listener and for getting our kids to listen to us. We all probably have room for improvement.

One of the things that Vicki shared was the concept of listening “stoppers” and “encouragers.” It’s a great basic way to begin to think about those things that we do that can hinder or help our listening skills. These concepts come from a great little book on listening called The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction by Rebecca Z. Shafir. If you’re interested in thinking more about your listening, this is a great place to start.

Another good listening book that Vicki uses with her students is Rule #1: Stop Talking! A Guide to Listening by Linda Eve Diamond. This practical guide is also helpful.

Lynn mentioned two book titles she found. One book is by one of Lynn’s favorite authors, Julie Cameron, who also wrote The Artist’s Way: The Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Cameron’s book about listening is called The Listening Path: Six Weeks to Greater Creativity.

If you’d simply like some inspiration about the effects of listening, Lynn also mentioned Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project.

Vicki also mentioned a TED Talk by Julian Treasure, 5 Ways to Listen Better. If you have 7 minutes, this is a great introduction.

And if you’re thinking about making some changes to your approach, we also talked about author Jessica Lahey’s advice that parents can, and should, admit to learning and trying new things. It helps your kids understand why you are doing what you are doing and also models putting learning into practice. We’ve recommended it several times before, but if you haven’t already read it, we recommend Lahey’s wonderful book The Gift of Failure.

There are some listening articles on our CPC website, including one that covers the “listening positions” that Vicki mentioned. Check them out for further reading.

Conversations with Your Student: What’s Your Listening Position?

12 Things You Can Do to Help You Listen to Your College Student

Communicating with Your College Student: Are You Listening?

Why Your College Student Should Consider an Internship

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