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“We re having a conversation. I m deciding i m going to listen to you you right that s different than how people generally communicate because usually when they communicate re doing something. Like okay. We re gonna have a conversation and i m gonna tell you why i m right and all win.
If you agree or maybe you re having a conversation where i don t know what you re trying to do maybe you re trying to impress the person you re talking to so you re not listening to them at all you re just thinking about what you re gonna say next okay. So that s not this this is you might have something to tell me and so i m gonna listen on the off chance that you ll tell me something that would really be useful for me to know. And so. If you agree with me.
And i find that out i know nothing more than i knew before i just know what i knew before and maybe i m happy about that because you know it didn t get challenged. But i m no smarter than i was before but maybe you re different than me and so while i m listening to you you ll tell me something i don t like maybe. It s something i find contemptible or difficult whatever maybe you ll tell me something i don t know and then i won t be quite as stupid. And then maybe i won t run painfully into quite as many things and that s a really useful thing to know especially if you live with someone.
And you re trying to make long term peace with them is they are not the same as you and they re away. They look at the world and the facts that they pull out of the world aren t the same as your fact and even though you re going to be overwhelmed with the proclivity to demonstrate that you re right. It is the case that two brains are better than one and so maybe. Nine of the ten things they tell you are dispensable or maybe even 49 out of 50.
But one thing all you need to get out of the damn conversation is one thing you don t know and one of the things. That s very cool about a good psychotherapeutic session is that the whole conversation is like that all you re doing is trying to express the truth of the situation as clearly as possible that s it and so now rogers proposition. And i ll tell you why he derived it was that if you have a conversation like that with someone it will made both of you better it ll make both of you psychologically healthier. So there s an implicit presupposition that the exchange of truth is curative well that s a very cool idea.
It s a very deep idea. It s the idea upon which western civilization. Although not only western civilization. Is actually predicated the idea that truth produces health.
But for rogers that was the entire purpose of the psychotherapeutic alliance. You come to see me because you want to be better you don t even know what that means necessarily neither do i we re gonna figure that out together but you come and you say look things are not acceptable to me. And maybe. There s something i could do about that so that s the minimal precondition to engage in therapy.
Something s wrong you re willing to talk about it truthfully and you want it to be better without that the therapeutic relationship does not get off the ground. And so then you might ask well what relationships are therapeutic and the answer that would be if you have a real relationship it s therapeutic if it isn t what you have is not a relationship god only knows what you have you re a slave. They re a tyrant you know you re both butting heads with one another it s a primate dominance hierarchy dispute. Oh i don t know you re like two cats in a barrel or two people with their hands around each other s throats.
But what you have is not a relationship one of the things i try to do in my therapeutic sessions is first of all to listen to really listen and then well i listen i watch and well i m listening things will happen in my head. You know maybe i ll get a little image of something or i ll get a thought or a question will emerge and then i ll just tell the person what that is but it s sort of directionless you know it s not like i have a goal except that we re trying to make things better. I m on the side of the part of the person that wants things to be better not worse. And so those parts of us have a dialogue and the consequence of that dialogue is that certain things take place and then i ll just tell the person.
What happened and it isn t that i m right. That s not the point the point is is that they get to have an hour. Where someone actually tells them what they think here s the impact you re having on me. This is making me angry this is making me happy.
This is really interesting this reminds me of something that you said our ago that i don t quite understand and the whole point is not for either person to make the proposition or convince the other that their position is correct. But merely to have an exchange of experience about how things are set up. And it s extraordinarily useful for people because it s often difficult for anyone to find anyone to talk to that will actually listen and so another thing. That s really strange about this listening is that if you listen to people they will tell you the weirdest bloody things so fast you just cannot believe it so.
If you re having a conversation with someone and it s dull. It s because you re not listening to them properly because they re weird. They re like warm bats or albatrosses or rhinoceroses or something like there s strange creatures. And so if you are actually communicating with them and they were telling you how weird they really are it would be anything.
But boring and you can ask questions that s a really good way of listening. But one of rogers. Points. Is well you have to be oriented properly in order to listen and the orientation has to be look what i want out of this conversation is that the place we both end up is better than the place we left that s it that s what i m after and if you re not after that you got to think why the hell wouldn t you be after that what could you possibly be after that would be better than that you walk away smarter.
And more well equipped for the world than you were before you had the conversation and so does the other person well maybe if you re bitter and resentful and angry and anxious and you know generally annoyed at the world then that isn t what you want you want the other person to walk away worse. And you too because you re full of revenge. But you know you ll get what you want if you do that so we know from our research. That such empathic understanding understanding with a person not about them is such an effective approach that it can bring about major changes in personality.
Some of you may be feeling that you listen well to people. And that you have never seen such results. The chances are very great that you have not been listening in the manner that i ve described fortunately. I can suggest a little experiment that you can do to test the quality of your understanding.
The next time you get into an argument with your wife or your friend or a small group of friends. Stop the discussion for a moment and for an experiment institute. This rule each person can speak up for himself only after he has first restated. The ideas and feelings of the previous speaker.
Accurately what accurately means is they have to agree with your restatement now that s an annoying thing to do because if someone is talking to you. And you disagree with them the first thing you want to do is take their argument. Make the stupidest possible thing out of it that you can that s the straw man and then demolish. It it s like so then you can walk away feeling good about it and you know you ve dominated them really nicely.
But that isn t what you do you say okay well i m gonna take what you told me and maybe i m even gonna make your arguments stronger than the one you made that s useful if you re dealing with someone that you have to live with because maybe they can t bloody well express themself. Very well. But they have something to say so you make their arguments. Strong alright.
Then you see what this would mean it would mean that before presenting your own point of view. Would be necessary for you to really achieve. The other speakers frame of reference to understand his thoughts and feelings. So well that you could summarize them for him sounds simple doesn t it.
But if you ll try it you ll find that it s the most difficult thing that you ve ever done music. ” ..
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Dr. Peterson explains the importance of listening and how to engage in healthy conversation.
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