The "Target System", is a visual tool that I developed to help couples and families learn to improve their ability to communicate more effectively. It has been extremely helpful in my practice to help teach and reinforce active listening. I see active listening as a foundational skill, that is often necessary to communicate both empathy and understanding. It is often criticized because it appears to be a somewhat mechanical process. Although it is a mechanical skill, it is also a way that we show that we care! It is one of many tools that we can use to potentially reduce conflict in relationships and gain a better understanding of each other. Through the years, I have come to believe that much of our personal stress has its origins in the way we communicate with the world around us, and the way we relate with each other. Oftentimes psychiatric symptoms and even some physical disorders may be generated in part by the stress that we experience due to poor family and interpersonal communication. Active listening is a way of letting someone else know that we understand what they are saying, or that we somehow understand their experience. In this process we restate what the other is saying, using different words that have the same meaning. This is different from a "reflection", where we use the same words the other says. Reflections are also valuable, but often not as effective. Active Listening implies that we are non-judgmental with regards to the other's experience. Listening is not about compliance. Frequently people get these two things confused. Just because we take the time to listen to ones concerns, does not mean that we have to comply with their wishes. If we don't comply that does not mean that we are not listening, it does show that the other is important enough to us, that we care for them, and nurture them by being present, and letting them know, at least that we understand. Of course if we can respond somehow and help them with what they need, that is even better, however, sometimes that is not possible. Active listening is different from hearing. In hearing we do not necessarily need to respond to the speaker. When we are listening "actively", however, we are communicating back to the speaker, or sender, that we understand their message or experience accurately and precisely. I believe that active listening works best when we have a positive intention, and when our responses are focused on the needs of the person that is speaking. Listening is a primary component of communications, and involves both our verbal and non-verbal responses. To listen effectively we need to learn to be mindful of both the information which is being shared by the other, as well as being mindful of our own verbal message, our tone, and other non-verbal responses. I typically give the "Target System" laminate to my clients. It is available to anyone just by going to my website. The visual part is double sided and the written description is separate. You can only down load it from a personal computer, or Mac, for some reason it won't work with an I-phone or Android. I always want to keep in mind that, "The quality of our lives are determined by the quality of our relationships". Website (drecupidotherapist.com) If you have any questions, you can make a comment on one of my posts, and I will answer it the best I can. I practice active listening everyday in my work, but it is often more difficult for me in my personal life. It seems like it would be a simple process, but, somehow our emotions can easily get in the way of our success with this tool. I welcome dialogue about this, and even challenges you might want to share as you practice.
The Target System, A Visual Tool to Improve Active Listening
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