10 Listening Techniques That Reduce Conflict

Most people define communication as “I talk and you listen.”

Unfortunately, this perspective does not improve our relationships, especially in difficult or volatile situations. We prefer the 90-10 rule: Listen 90% of the time and speak 10% of the time. When the other person is talking, focus on what they are saying. Listening is both an art and a science, and too few of us practice world-class listening skills.

Whether at work or at home, it makes sense for all of us to improve how we listen. That includes listening to and seeing things that are not said directly, including non-verbal communication (e.g., tone of voice, body language, etc.).

Here are 10 techniques that can help to reduce conflicts and anger:

  1. Focus on what is said, not how it is said.
  2. Ask yourself: “Is there any truth to what I am hearing?”
  3. Do not formulate a response right away; just listen.
  4. Clarify and reflect on what you are hearing.
  5. Don’t respond to high intensity, emotional words.
  6. Appreciate the person’s uniqueness—positive and negative.
  7. Monitor your non-verbal “leakage.”
  8. Recognize emerging needs and interests of the other person.
  9. Don’t interrupt – no matter how angry you feel.
  10. Excuse yourself for a “time-out” if emotions have escalated.

When in doubt: Stop. Think. Act.

For further assistance our coaches and counselors are available to speak with you privately, confidentially, and at no charge as part of the Guard Your Buddy program.

We can be reached 24/7 at 855 HELP GYB (855-435-7492).

@Copyright, Sobel & Raciti Associates, Inc., 2011