Categories: Behavior Challenges, Communication, Everyday Life Skills, Parents Corner
As care givers we often find ourselves rushing to get things done like taking care of our clients, cleaning, cooking and writing notes. I have often said there isn’t enough time in the day to get done. During the hustle and bustle of our day, we sometimes forget the reason we are here. It is easy to dismiss our clients concerns and even jump to conclusions of what they may be trying to say. This increases the anxiety of the people we care for and can even lead to further escalation and contempt. We need to remember that listening is one of the most important parts of our job.
Empathic listening is the way we listen and respond to what a person is saying. This skill promotes understanding and trust which is essential to providing the needed supports to the clients in our care. Some of the benefits of empathic listening include:
- Promote respect and the trust of the person you serve
- Helps reduce stress or tension you clients may be feeling
- Promotes continuation of discussions to help reach resolutions
- Demonstrates the desire to listen and care about the individual’s needs.
All too often we anticipate the conversation of our clients’ so we become judgmental or assume what they are going to say. This only promotes anxiety and can even lead to the escalation of their anxiety. If you take a few minutes to listen to your client and what they are really trying to say, you can avert the escalation of their behavior. Think back to times where you have had to deal with a client that was acting out. Of those times, were there chances where empathic listening could have stopped the crisis before it happened?
Based on the strategies of Non Violent Crisis Intervention, there are five ways to promote communication and listening.
- Pay attention while moving to a quiet are to reduce distractions that may confound the situation.
- Show the client that you are listening to what they have to say by giving them eye contact and providing cues like head nods and positive body language.
- Restate what the individual is saying to clarify and help them convey what they are truly trying to say.
- Allow time for reflection so the person can process what has been said to them.
- Provide constructive feedback that promotes positive interactions and allows the individual to feel like you are there to help them.
Taking just a little time when a person in our care comes to you with a concern can make the difference between a positive interaction and an escalation of unwanted behaviors. We are there to help our clients be the best they can be and listening to what they have to say is the cornerstone of “empathic listening.”
- Decrease ability to feel sympathy or empathy for the person we care about
- Poor decision making
- Inability to separate work from home
- Reduced desire to come to work and help those around you
- Find outlets or hobbies you can do to help reduce the pressures of the job or caring for that special person
- Recognize your needs
- Take a break when you start feeling overwhelmed
- Make plans to get away or just hang out with some friends for a laugh
- Know what you have and do not have control over
- Work out or even try meditation, yoga or breathing exercises
- Find a balance between taking care of yourself and others to make sure you don’t forget your needs
Communication A to Z