Active listening is a skill and the basis of effective communication. People who have had the experience of addiction focused on themselves and the drug. They lost the ability and habit of listening to others. Active listening intentionally focuses your attention on the person speaking to understand what they are saying. As the active listener, you listen, repeat back what you think they have said, and demonstrate you understand what they’re saying. Active listening is a way of listening and responding to other people that improves mutual understanding and actually reduces conflict. If you are engaged in conflict and are busy formulating a response to what’s being said instead of paying attention, then the conflict escalates. If you focus first on hearing what the person is really saying, you can then better respond to reduce the conflict (University of Colorado, 1998). Active listening avoids misunderstanding, because part of active listening is always taking the time to confirm and clarify what the other person said, and what emotions they’re trying to express. Active listening opens people up and encourages them to say more.
To get others to listen to you, first send clear signals that you want to listen. Listen first, then, ask to be heard. It is difficult to accept that someone is listening if they are looking away. So, maintain eye contact and lean slightly toward them. It is common to bring your head closer to the person when you are really listening. Practice sending those listening signals. Physical closeness signals intellectual and emotional closeness. Nodding indicates you understand or agree. Using these behaviors signals you are giving your full and undivided attention (University of Colorado, 1998).
You need to work to repair relationships that have been impacted by addiction. Remember to use all your communication skills. Use posture, eye contact, head nods, and repeat what you have heard from them in your words. Describe the emotions you think they are projecting. When people are intoxicated, active listening skills disappear which results in misinterpretations of what happened and what was said. When in conflict or under stress, your deliberate use of active listening skills can lower tension and support a positive resolution. Active listening skills can help you get the most out of an educational course. Whether you are beginning a new relationship or working to improve an old relationship, active listening can bring about mutual understanding. Active listening is an effective coping skill to reduce stress, to hear from others, and get your opinion heard in a positive way.