Active Listening

What is active listening?

Active listening is a way of communicating where you are giving your full attention to the speaker. You are aware of their verbal and nonverbal cues, you are giving them space to share their experience, and you are sitting with them in their feelings.


The Do’s of Active Listening

Be empathic
(flip for examples)

“That sounds so painful”

Stay open and curious
(flip for examples)

“Tell me more about that”

(flip for examples/more info)

(No electronic devices, no distractions, just pure focus on your teen)

Let them know you appreciate their sharing and you support them
(flip for examples)

“I’m so glad you came to me with this information. I will be there for you through this”

Put yourselves in their shoes
(flip for examples)

(channel your inner teen, and remember what that teen felt like sometimes)

Let them know they are loved no matter what
(flip for examples)

“I may not always like your choices, but I always love you”


The Dont’s of Active Listening

Don’t try to fix.
(flip to see why not?)

Fixing sends the message to your teen that they are incapable of fixing the problem and doesn’t give them room to share their feelings.

Don’t act overwhelmed or overly emotional
(flip to see why not?)

Being overwhelmed makes the situation about you, and then they need to console, parent and/or protect you.

Don’t judge
(flip to see why not?)

Do any of us enjoy being judged? Usually we’re all self critical enough.

Don’t use platitudes (“tomorrow will be a new day”)
(flip to see why not?)

Platitudes make it seem like you don’t get it and denies them their subjective reality

Don’t take the other side or try to analyze the situation
(flip to see why not?)

That doesn’t help them feel supported by you.

Don’t get mad
(flip to see why not?)

When you yell, it makes it seem like their feelings are wrong, which makes them feel like they are wrong or bad

Don’t philosophize (“life isn’t fair”)
(flip to see why not?)

Philosophizing makes it seem like you are minimizing what is a big deal to them