LISTEN WITH LOVE by Sasha Lessin, Ph.D. schooloftantra@...
Learn how to listen to your lovers in a way that lets them
feel felt. Make lovers really hear, understand and feel you. Hold
each other and find out what hurt and what they can do to make it
better now. Practice kindly yet authentically confrontation. Grow
Understand how genuine concern, revealing talk and listening
actively encourages us. You practice active listening mirroring,
validating, empathizing and requesting. In active listening, you
communicate empathy and respect when you paraphrase, summarize and
show emotional sympathy with one another. You mirror and validate
each other, empathize with each other and agree to specific actions.
Mirroring: You say in your own words what you hear your
partner say, beginning with "I hear you saying....". You do not
respond to what she says, or indicate approval or disapproval. Stay
neutral, don't roll your eyes or use a sarcastic tone, even if you
don't like what she said or disagree with her. It's her turn to talk
and be heard; you'll get your turn when you've proven to her that you
accurately hear her, understand her logic and feel with her.
When you mirror her, you keep your voice neutral. Your job's
to accurately reflect what she says to her satisfaction, so she knows
you understand her. When she's said a small amountusually three
sentences or lessraise your hand to indicate that she's to stop
talking and let you paraphrase her. Don't let her speak too long or
you'll have difficulty mirroring her.
As you learn to actively listen, you can remember more and
let her speak longer while you still accurately reflect what she
says. She can make it easier by pausing after three or four
sentences and give you a chance to mirror them before saying more.
Suppose she says, "You never take out the trash." Suppose,
also, that you distinctly remember that you took the trash out last
week. Nevertheless, don't say, "You're wrong." Instead, say, in a
non-argumentative tone, "You're saying I never take out the trash."
Then ask if you heard her right. Say, "Is that right?"
If she says, "No," or says you didn't fully and, to her
satisfaction, get the gist of what she said, she tells you the same
thing again. Then, patiently, again try to accurately say what she
said. She won't go on to say anything else and she repeats the same
thing she said and let you say it in your own words until she's
satisfied you understand. If you just can't get it to her
satisfaction with your words, simply repeat what she said word for
word till she says, "Correct."
If she says, "Right," nods her head "yes" or otherwise
indicates you repeated her correctly, ask if she has more to say on
the subject she's relating. When, after you mirror what she said and
ask if you got it right, she finally says, "Correct," wait to hear
if she has more to say about whatever she's discussing.
If, after a few breaths of waiting to hear if she has
something to add to what you successfully mirrored, she's said
nothing, encourage her to say more. Prompt her to talk more, if she
wishes, with the question, "Is there more?"
Continue to mirror her--check if you heard her right and ask
if there's more she'd like to say--until she finally says that's all
she wants to say about the subject she's been talking about. Then
you've successfully completed the first phase of active listening,
mirroring, and are ready to go to the second phase, validation.
Validation: When your partner says she's finished what she
has to say, summarize her logic, outline the main points she made.
Complete this sentence to her, "You make sense because..." with a
review how, from the way she related the subject she discussed, she
Ask her if you got her logic and main points right. If she
thinks you missed something important, she asks you to mirror that.
When she agrees that you've understood her logic, proceed to the next
phase of actively listening, the empathy phase.
Empathy: Put yourself emotionally in your partner's place.
Imagine you think as she does about whatever she had you mirror and
validate. Experiencing whatever she spoke of, to what degree are
you, in her place, mad, sad, glad or scared? Based on this emotional
identification with her, complete this: GI imagine you feel..."
Guess how she feels, what emotions she probably has. Then ask
her, :"Is that what you felt?" And "What else did you feel?"
Behavioral Request: Ask your partner, "What would you like me
to do to help heal any pain from what you shared." Alternately,
ask, "What do you need and what I can do to make your life better
Next, it's your turn to be heard. Your partner mirrors,
validates and empathizes with you, then agrees to a behavior you
Okay, now take a partner, step-by-step, through the exercise
LISTEN WITH LOVE
First do the exercise, Listen With Love with a partner, then
read the explanation for how Listen With Love works. The exercise
teaches you to mirror, validate and empathize as you learn how to
please, support, respect and convey love to each other. You learn
how to make sure you understand each other, give and get deep,
Relax and take turns with your partner. You take each other
through the cues below. The reader reads the cues in bold aloud to a
partner, the responder. Reader reads anything enclosed in square
brackets [like this] silently. Where the reader needs to respond,
you'll see this symbol ###.
Where you see asterisks (* * *), it's the responder's cue to
respond: give her/him a few breaths to do so. Keep your face and
body neutral while you listen; don't roll your eyes, gesture or
respond--these inhibit the responder.
HOW CAN I PLEASE YOU DEEPLY? *** [When responder has said a
few sentences--few enough so you can remember--say the next sentence]
Wait. I hear you saying ... ###. [Finish the sentence in
your own words, Reader, summarize (paraphrase) what responder's said.]
Is that correct? *** [your partner gives you corrections,
paraphrase her and ask if you've got the corrections right until she
says, " you've got it right".]
Would you say more on this subject? *** [Continue
paraphrasing and asking if there's more till responder finishes on
this subject. When responder says, "that's all", complete the next
You make sense because ### [Validate responder. Pretend
you're s/he, seeing things from her/his perspective, say how s/he
I imagine you feel .... ###.
Is that what you're feeling? ***
TELL ME WHAT I CAN DO THAT TURNS YOU ON? *** WHEN? ***
You're saying ....
Is that correct? *** [If responder gives you corrections,
paraphrase them and ask if you've got the corrections right until
responder says, " you've got it right".]
Would you say more on this subject? ***
You make sense because .... ###
You probably feel .... ###.
Is that what you're feeling? ***
HOW CAN I SUPPORT YOU? ***
Wait. You're saying ... ###. Correct? *** More to say more
on this subject? ***
You make sense because ###.
I'm guessing you feel ... ###. Is that right? *** Say what
you do feel.***
TELL ME HOW I CAN MAKE YOU FEEL RESPECTED. ***
You're saying ... ###. Is that right? *** Would you say
more on this subject? ***
You make sense because ... ###.
I imagine you feel ... ###.
What do you feel? ***
WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE YOU FEEL LOVED? ***
You're saying ...###. Right? *** Say more. *** You make
sense because ###. I guess you feel ... ###. What, indeed, are
you feeling? ***
ACTIVE LISTENING LETS YOU FEEL LOVED, LOVE YOURSELF & GROW
Carl Rogers taught that in the natural course of feeling
loved and accepted, you automatically think of yourself as
worthwhile. You have a good self-image that gives you the confidence
you need to grow emotionally. You know that sometimes other people
don't like what you do and that sometimes you change what you do
because of them; yet you feel basically ok; you have the self-
confidence to be spontaneous.
If, on the other hand, you feel unloved or loved and accepted
only when you act certain ways, you develop a bad self-image. If you
have that, you approach new situations split between the spontaneous
creativity you need and your internal worry about whether your
behavior will be approved by others.
Rogers labels as unconditional acceptance the feeling of
being loved, even if your actions are disapproved. He labels as
conditional acceptance the attitude that you must behave in an
approved way to be regarded as okay.
Test yourself: Identify the following parental utterances as
unconditional acceptance or as conditional acceptance:
a. "You bad boy! You cooked the kitty, you demon!"
b. "I'm furious with you. I hate what you did. Don't you ever treat
animals like that!"
Rogers says that a child socialized with variants of "you're
bad unless You behave right" (select correct alternative(s))
a. develops high positive self-regard;
b. receives unconditional acceptance;
c. develops a bad self-image;
d. develops a good self-image and feels intrinsically worthwhile;
e. is likely to enter a new situation in a spontaneous way;
f. is likely to enter a new situation conflicted between her impulses
and her concern about how people would react to her if she were
g. lacks the confidence to grow.
Fortunately, even if you or your lovers received only
conditional acceptance, bad self- images and conflicts between how
you think you should be and how you are, there's still hope. You can
develop a positive self-image when you feel accepted and loved. Give
love and acceptance through a helping relationship. In such a
relationship, you share, in addition to acceptance and care, honesty
as to your emotions. Give, also, empathetic understanding. By
empathetic understanding, you let a person know you can relate to the
way she or he sees, hears and feels things.
When you grow, as the result of feeling love and
acceptance from parents, society or a helping relationship, you
... understand yourself more.
... accept parts of yourself you denied before.
... get along better with, accept, and understand people more.
... think, feel and act in a consistent, congruent and integrated way.
...become more like you like to be--your ideal self and your real
...do what you please and are confident.
... become more individualistic, unique, and expressive.
... stop depending too much on the guidance of others.
When someone's honest with you, you become more
honest with him and with yourself. When he accepts you, you accept
yourself. Where he communicates empathetically, listens to and gives
feedback to you, you start listening to yourself. You clarify your
own directions and gain confident.
Empathetic understanding you give someone in a helping
relationship must be felt by her for her to open up and grow
maximally. Not only must you understand her sympathetically, but she
must also perceive you as understanding her. This helping form of
communication is active listening.
Practice active listening: decide to understand the person
you listen to before she understands you. You need only understand;
you need not necessarily agree with what she says. Speak as slowly
and energetically as she speaks. Synchronize your breathing with
hers. Posture and gesture as she does. Reflect on both what she
says and on the feeling that she conveys. Do this unobtrusively.
Nod, ask questions of clarification, change how you sit and
paraphrase her; these behaviors encourage her to express, understand,
accept herself and grow.
Warm-up: Exaggerated active listening
Select a partner. Be alone together.
Each of you think of what you would most like to experience
before you die (or anything else you choose to share).
Now share this information. Rephrase your partner's
information into your own words until your partner agrees you
understand the gist of what she said. When she agrees you are
accurately paraphrasing her, you tell her part of your thoughts.
Then she paraphrases you. Do this for every sentence. This is
exaggerated active listening, designed to train you to track your
partner's verbal communications. In the next part of this exercise,
you continue sentence by sentence tracking subvocally.
Practice: Natural units of reflection.
Share natural units of talk with the same partner. Each of
you think of something that concerns you. Your Partner says his
concern as you paraphrase him silently in your own head. Every once
in a whileafter he says ten or twenty sentences, tell him what you
hear him saying and ask if your summary's correct. Then have him
hear your concern and occasionally feedback to you what he hears you
Sometime this week subtly paraphrase someone you talk with
using "Do you mean...?" "What I'm picking up from you is..." "Let's
see if I understand, you're saying...." This lets the person talking
know you're listening and keeps you, the listener, alert to the talker
RESEARCH SUPPORT FOR ROGERS' THEORY
Researchers amassed convincing evidence for Dr. Rogers'
hypothesis that honesty, acceptance of client and empathetic
understanding (shown by active listening) yield growth in self-
understanding, self-acceptance, satisfying social interaction,
congruent thought, feeling and action, self-confidence,
individuality, independence and less punishing ideals. The
researchers recorded sessions for 18 months at the University of
Chicago's counseling center for clients seeing Rogerian counselors.
These clients and also non-clients (equated as control groups in
terms of age, sex, student or non-student status, etc.) were given
various psychological tests. The resulting data prove that clients
receiving candor, acceptance and active listening feel better
afterwards and are seen by their friends as maturing. There are no
such changes in control groups.
SHARE(ON THIS SITE)YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH ACTIVE LISTENING!