Mar 30, 2011

14 Benefits of Active Listening

Here is a list of some of the main benefits of using Active Listening:
  1. Is it your check on the accuracy of your listening
  2. It shows the sender that you are interested in him or her
  3. It proves to the sender that not only have you heard, you have understood
  4. It tells the sender you can accept him/her as a troubled person NOTE: The keyword here is accept (i.e., the sender's behaviors are in the top of the Behavior Window), not agree with. You can accept his/her having a feeling you might not have or a thought you don't agree with.
  5. It gives the sender a chance to ventilate, to feel relieved, to have catharsis. When feelings are expressed and accepted, they lose their grip on the person and become less disabling. when held in, feelings tend to remain strong and fester (as opposed to a popular fear that is one listens to and accepts another's feelings, those feelings will get out of hand).
  6. Active Listening fosters others doing their own problem definition and problem solving. It keeps the responsibility with the sender, yet the listener remains involved. The sender holds onto the ball.
  7. It relieves "emotional flooding" and frees the intellect to get back to work.
  8. It fosters the sender moving from a superficial to the deeper, more basic problem.
  9. It avoids fastening onto and "solving" the "presenting problem".
  10. It helps the sender deal with feelings, not just the facts.
  11. Active listening frequently fosters the sender's insights - new ways of seeing things, new attitudes, new behaviors, new understanding of self.
  12. It fosters the sender being more open and honest with you - more willing to use you as a helping agent.
  13. It promotes a more intimate and warm relationship. The sender feels warm and positive toward the listener. The listener better understands the sender and feels more positive toward him or her.
  14. It helps the sender grow toward being an internal problem solver, toward being less dependent on others for solutions, toward being more self-responsible, more self-directing; master of his or her own fate or destiny.
These are only a few of the many benefits that Active Listening can do for your relationships. Thought of another one that isn't listed here? Leave a comment!

Mar 23, 2011

Understanding "Authority"

In P.E.T., the use of flexing your parental power to "control" your children is something we strongly oppose. Many parents have a hard time accepting this concept and ask things like:
"But don't I need to show them who's boss? Or else my kids will walk all over me and not learn to respect me."
Proponents of parent "authority" fail to recognize that there are four very different kinds of authority as explained here.

I. Authority P (Power)
This authority is based on power, which is derived from possessing rewards and punishments and using them to try to control others. We refer to Authority O as the "authoritarian" approach. This kind of authority has serious deficiencies and destructive effects on both the controllers and controllees.

II. Authority E (Expertise)
This authority is derived from expertise - knowledge, experience, training. Possession of Authority E can strongly influence (not control) others to accept direction, advice, council, and change their behavior. People who have and use thiis kind of authority are often called "authoritative". Children usually accept their parents' Authority E. The Gordon Model of effective relationships certainly approves of Authority E.

III. Authority J (Job Definition)
This is authority derived from one's job definition and people's acceptance of the legitimacy of that job definition. For example, police officers and citizens, coaches and players and doctors and patients. This is often called "legitimated authority" because people usually feel the influencer has a legitimate right to influence. The Gordon Model certainly approves of Authority J.

IV. Authority C (Contract)
This authority derives from a contract between two or more people - a mutually acceptable agreement or decision. It can be formal and legal written document) or a "gentlemen's agreement" (handshake). This kind of authority is often called "contractual." The key to this source of influence is that both parties have reached a mutually acceptable agreement (or contract). Do you smell Method III here?

Authority E,J, and C are influence methods, while Authority P is a control method. Influence methods rarely provoke defensive and reactive coping behaviors, simply because one can either accept or reject another's influence. However, they cannot always reject another's power-based control.

What do you think?

Mar 16, 2011

Changing the Environment to Reduce Unacceptable Behavior

There are a number of ways you can modify the physical environment of your home to prevent or minimize behavior that would cause you a problem, cause your child a problem, or result in a parent-child conflict. Changing some part of the household environment can be especially helpful in modifying the unacceptable behavior of very young, pre-verbal children.

While most people think of Modifying the Environment as something you primarily do with infants and toddlers, it can also be used very effectively with older children, teens, adults and even in companies and organizations to save hours of frustration, prevent or end conflict, and save individuals and organizations money.

For example:
  • A mother was frustrated by paper on the floor from her son who routinely missed the small wastebasket when throwing away discarded paper from homework and computer printing. She did a quick brainstorming with her son; the solution, a larger wastebasket with a small basketball backboard and hoop attached. Result, paper ended up in the basket and the end of that frustration for Mom.
What You Can Do

There are three major schemes for altering your home environment to prevent or insulate a child's unacceptable behavior. These principles apply to any age:

Adding to the Environment
  • Introducing activities or materials that interest the child.
  • Broadening work and play areas to increase some behavior
Removing from the Environment
  • Reducing stimulation or the physical means to the undesired behavior
  • Designating work and play areas to limit certain behavior
Changing the Environment
  • Making the home easier for the child to function independently and effectively
  • Displaying, storing and placing elements in the home to eliminate or encourage certain behaviors
It is important to understand that the concept of modifying the environment does not sanction parents to impose physical changed upon unwilling children. This would clearly be a form of Method I problem-solving. Instead, parents should seek mutual acceptance of physical changes in the home, especially if they get resistance from their children. Moreover, it is likely that the best possible modifications can be made if all family members put their heads together - and certainly the commitment to supporting the changes will be higher if the process used is Method III, not Method I.

An abbreviated excerpt from the P.E.T. Participant Workbook

Mar 9, 2011

How to Open the Door and Get Your Children Talking

By Selena Cruz George, P.E.T. Program Manager

Many parents feel that after a certain age, their children simply stop talking to them about what is going on in their lives. After years of unresolved conflicts, hostility, punishment and "You-Messages", teens in particular will sometimes "fire" their parents and cease communicating on a deeper level during those very important adolescent years. When the conversation between children and their parents stops, the growing divide created between them causes damaging effects to the health of their relationship and to the child.

The remedy for this doesn't need to include years of therapy and psychoanalysis.

In his book, the Miracle of Dialouge, Reuel L. Howe says: Indeed, this is the miracle of dialogue: it can bring a relationship into being, and it can bring into being once again a relationship that has died.

One of the most productive and beneficial ways of listening and responding to your child's feelings, is coming from a place of acceptance and inviting them to say more, otherwise known as a "door-opener". These invitations to talk are responses that do not include any judgement, feelings, questions or advice. They are simply a way to get them to share more of their feelings with you.

Some examples of "door-openers" are:
  • "Interesting!"
  • "Mm-hmm."
  • "I'd like to hear more about it."
  • "Sounds like you've got something to say about this."
  • "This seems like something important to you."
  • "Tell me more.
These types of responses are encouraging words to get your child start or continue talking. It's important to put your Active Listening skills into action here and steer clear of giving any Roadblocks. Your thoughts and feelings should not be included in this communication process.

Careful not to "slam the door shut" once you have opened it, which can leave you worse off than where you started! Particularly when first trying Active Listening, some parents give it up too soon in the conversation because they don't like what they are hearing. Allow your child to feel completely accepted by you by giving them the chance to work through their own problems.

This will create a stronger and more loving relationship between parents and their children as well as optimize your child's problem-solving skills and build self-esteem.

What do you think? We'd love to hear your feedback!

Mar 2, 2011

Watch a short video on how the Gordon Model skills can improve all of your relationships

What exactly will I learn in PET?

P.E.T. Core Competencies - after participation in the P.E.T. course, it is expected that parents will have the ability to:

1. Determine who “owns the problem” in a given situation.
2. Identify the 12 Roadblocks to Communication.
3. Distinguish between Roadblocks and Active Listening.
4. Avoid the Roadblocks that cause most helping attempts to fail.
5. Recognize when their child needs their help as a skilled listener.
6. Use silence, acknowledgments and door-openers to help their child with a
7. Active Listen to hear their child’s feelings.
8. Active Listen to clarify information.
9. Distinguish between Acceptable and Unacceptable Behavior.
10. Determine what to do when a child’s behavior is interfering with the parent’s
meeting their needs.
11. Develop a three-part Confrontive I-Message.
12. Confront their child’s unacceptable behavior with an I-Message.
13. Shift gears between I-Messages and Active Listening when appropriate.
14. Acknowledge others’ efforts with Appreciate I-Messages.
15. Prevent problems and conflicts using Preventive I-Messages.
16. Recognize conflict situations.
17. Distinguish between Conflicts-of-Needs and Values Collisions.
18. Avoid the use of Method I.
19. Avoid the use of Method II.
20. Set the stage for Method III Conflict Resolution.
21. Use Method III to resolve a conflict between the parent and child.
22. Use Method III to mediate a conflict between others.
23. Handle Values Collisions.