Active Listening Skills

Hypnotist Dr. William Horton

by William D. Horton, Psy. D. Psychologist, NLP Trainer, Hypnotist

Many people make the assumption that listening is a passive behavior, the research is clear that supportive sensitive listening is very effective for behavioral change. (Rogers & Dymond, 1954). If done correctly it can facilitate the way people think feel, and behave. When people are listened to they tend to listen to themselves and be more careful to clarify their own thoughts and feelings.

The use of active listening presents no threats to an individual, their sense of self, or their current situation. Therefore there is no need for the people to defend themselves. If you want to help someone restore their equilibrium you must help the person to think more clearly and defuse the intense emotions. The person who uses techniques that are intimidating, moralizing, criticizing, lecturing, sarcastic, or evaluating will only encounter resistance.

When combined with Rapport techniques of mirroring and matching this becomes a super powerful tool.

Listening For Emotions

  1. People communicate on two levels:

    • Content: The facts, the story

    • Emotions: The emotional reaction to the facts.

  2. You must learn to listen for the emotions surrounding the content, in a crisis situation.

  3. Emotional reaction and its behavior will make the situation worse or lead to solution.

  4. How a person feels about a situation is critical.

  5. Helping a person control their emotions will place them on a positive path.

Non-Judgmental Attitude

  • Be accepting

  • Do not interject your thoughts, feelings, or values into the situation.

  • The subject’s feelings, values, life style, beliefs, and opinions are all that matters.

Active Listening Skills

  • Empathy versus Sympathy

  • People who make clear statements of feelings are in a much better position to solve their problems.

  • When a listener is able to reflect the speaker’s feelings, the listener is thought of as being empathetic and understanding.

Common Problems

  • Try to persuade

  • Talk too much

  • Advice

  • Conclusion on inference or Automatic inference

  • Too much self disclosure (switching roles)


Basic Skills

Paraphrasing – putting the speakers meaning into your own words.

Emotional Labeling – Try to identify the feeling

“You sound angry” “I hear Pain” “You seem unsure what to feel”

Reflecting – The last few words repeated, the gist of the situation

Minimal encouragers – Indicate your presence and attention

“Ok” “Yea” “Uh-huh”

“I” messages – “I feel——– when you” “I would be “

Open ended sentences and questions. Scripts