"Feelings are friendly" is an expression we use in our classes to help parents come to realize feelings are not "bad". When a parent shows by Active Listening that he accepts a child's feelings, the child is also helped to accept them. He learns from the parent's response that feelings are friendly.
Active Listening promotes a relationship of warmth between parent and child.
The experience of being heard and understood by another person is so satisfying that it invariably makes the sender feel warm toward the listener. Children, particularly, respond with loving ideas and feelings. Similar feelings are evoked within the listener--he begins to feel warmer and closer to the sender. When one listens empathically and accurately to another, he gets to understand that person, to appreciate his way of looking at the world--in a sense, he becomes that person during the period of putting himself in his shoes. Invariably, by allowing oneself to "get inside" the other person, one produces feelings of closeness, caring and love. To empathize with another is to see him as a separate person, yet be willing to join with him or be with him. It means "becoming a companion" to him for a brief period in his journey through life. Such an act involves deep caring and love. Parents who learn empathic Active Listening discover a new kind of appreciation and respect, a deeper feeling of caring; in turn, the child responds to the parent with similar feelings.
More tomorrow on a few more reasons why Active Listening is important.
*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's book, Parent Effectiveness Training, P.E.T.