Our capacity to listen is greater than our ability to speak. So why is it, then, that we yearn to be great speakers rather than good listeners?
To know that you’ve been heard is one of the most confirming feelings you’ll ever have. Sadly though, paying full attention while someone else is speaking requires more effort than most of us are prepared to invest. Perhaps it’s time to upgrade your listening skills.
The purpose of the React—Respond—Reflect model is to encourage more listening and less speaking during interpersonal communications. Applying this model to your everyday conversations with friends, family and co-workers will put you on the path to becoming a more effective listener.
REACT: Suppress first impressions or impulses
The temptation to react when the speaker says something that stimulates your mind is natural, but it should be held in check to encourage the speaker to continue. Expressing your thoughts prematurely shifts the focus away from the speaker to you and discourages rather than encourages further exploration of the issue.
RESPOND: Answer positively or affirmatively
The appropriate time to respond will become obvious once the speaker has expressed what is foremost on his or her mind. Affirmative responses not only acknowledge that you’ve heard what’s been said thus far, but also encourage the speaker to respond more openly to your questions and concerns.
REFLECT: Suggest alternatives or resolutions
The opportunity to reflect on alternative outcomes and explore potential solutions will surface when critical judgment is suspended and the dialogue is free flowing between you and the speaker. At this point you can hold up the mirror so you both can see the situation through the eyes of the other.