Woof, Woof!

Listening is one of the most important skills any of us have. How well we listen has a major impact on the quality of all our relationships with others. We listen to obtain information, to learn to understand, 
for enjoyment and fun. Given all the listening we do, it might be reasonable to expect that we’d be quite good at it. Sadly, not so.
 
Depending on the study being quoted, we remember a dismal 25-50% of what we hear. That means that when friends, loved-ones, colleagues, or anyone else talk to us for, say, 10 minutes, we’re only likely to hear between 2½-5 minutes of what they say.
 
It takes concentration and determination to be an active listener and old habits are hard to break, but it is possible. Even dogs do it better – studies show that pets pay attention “not only to who we are and how we say things, but also to what we say”.

Listening workshops can help care professionals – and us, to listen better. Effective, or Active listening might be described as ‘deliberate listening without passing judgement’. It means reminding yourself constantly that your aim is to truly hear what the other person is saying.

This means parking all other thoughts and setting aside behaviours that might be distracting you and avoiding thinking about your reply, so really concentrating on the person and their message.

The workshops offer tried and tested exercises, games and reflective discussions to help participants listen better.

In subsequent impact measurement, a participant nurse reported that not only his work, but also his marriage had improved as a result; another carer said she was now able to build a detailed care plan for someone with dementia who had no friends or family left alive. 

We asked residents to share any outcomes they had noticed. One spoke of feeling more valued, “being listened to makes you feel that what you have to say is worth something”. Sorry, what’s that you said?