January 2022 Blog | www.traumatalkblog.com
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Expand our intention to listen more deeply and respond with awareness
Dear loyal blog readers,

It seems like this is a time when communication is an imperative, a really good time to listen and to hear one another - our families, friends, co-workers and everyone. 

Our January 2022 blog is about how we listen and respond to one another.
Over the past two years, COVID has hit the world, not just our own community or just this place or that -- but the entire world. This is hugely significant because in an instant, we have all had to adapt to a very different life with a whole new set of special safety rules and protocols.

We still don't know how long it will last or what might happen next.
Is it any wonder that all this confusion and anxiety has led to a rash of mistrust and misunderstanding? 

Jan and I decided to start our 2022 Trauma Talk blog with a positive understanding of how we choose to listen and the choices we make in how we respond.

This is unlikely to solve the bigger problem, but certainly we can do a better job in healing the rifts and bringing some measure of connection, and maybe even a little harmony, closer to home.
In very significant ways, in the midst of all this stress and uncertainty, our ability to connect and communicate effectively with one another, has become compromised.
We repeat
what we
don't repair
Our society seems to be fractured by a great divide. 

Since the start of the pandemic there does not appear to be a "gray area" when it comes to what people believe and how they communicate this to others.

People have taken sides.

And like choosing sides in a divorce, there is nothing gray about it. Conflict has made our ability to communicate difficult, if not, at times, impossible. We have ignored old friends and even family members who don’t agree with us.
The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.
We listen to reply
Listening to another person does not mean you have to agree with everything they are saying, but it can allow us to learn something from and about the other person.
The first step is to become more conscious and attentive in the ways we choose to respond.

Responding is a CHOICE, monitoring our tone, our body language, our attitude, and how we acknowledge the other person. 

For instance, there is a wide range of choices we can make when responding to another. We can be soft, fearful, argumentative, dismissive, agreeable, and so on.

Reacting vs Responding
Some of you may know that my child had a traumatic experience at age 11 and it resulted in experiencing auditory hallucinations for a few years.
As a mother, I knew I needed to be able to communicate with my child and to understand the voices and find a way to help.

So, I listened. I listened deeply. I asked questions, and repeated back what I thought I heard. I tried to validate the entire experience. This built trust between us and gave me an appreciation of the value of listening and inquiring rather than just reacting or giving up. I have found this model to be extremely useful in communicating with everyone in my family and in all of my relationships.

Below are practical and useful listening tools to use in your daily life.
The practice of deep listening is the practice
of open inquiry without assumption or judgment.
As always, thanks for reading!
Diana and Jan
Quotes written by Stephen Covey and Christine Langley-Obaugh
Article from Psychology Today
As we know, we can't always be physically with each other, but we can still connect with each other through the many modes of communication delivered by phones, video chat services, social media, email, text messaging, or instant messaging.

Yet, all is not lost.

Certainly, an email or phone call is no replacement for a hug, but it can still meet our needs for connection.

So, do yourself and your family member or friend a favor, and reach out to them. And when you talk, focus your energy on listening.

And I mean listen, really listen to them. Don't just catch up, or complain about the pandemic-- practice deep listening.

The kind of listening that isn't interested in surface chat. Rather, deep listening moves the conversation beneath the superficial to hidden fears, hopes, and sorrows.

We all want to be authentically seen and heard with the eyes and ears of compassion.

So, instead of waiting and demanding someone else give you that gift, reach out and give it to another person.

Give them the gift of deep listening and compassion.
Even if you disagree with what the other person said, you can still show them respect by acknowledging what they said and pay attention to what they are feeling. This goes a long way in promoting healthy communication.

Validation is achieved when the listener identifies and verbalizes what the speaker is feeling and why they are feeling that way. This requires a keen ear and paying attention to what the speaker said and how they said it. If someone doesn’t feel validated, they will feel unheard and hurt.
In this case, they will likely repeat themselves with greater volume and intensity.

Reflection Statements: Verbalizing your understanding of what the other person said is very important to the communication process. This isn’t a silly exercise done for the purpose of just saying words. You are not to be tape recorder simply replaying what the other person said.

Reflective listening means not just hearing the words, but understanding what the other person means. Then making a statement that shows you're understanding what the other person is saying. When you can do this, it lets the other person know you are tracking and comprehending what they are trying to get across.

When you give a reflection statement, misunderstanding is bound to happen. Therefore, it is important to check in with the speaker to see if you are tracking what they are saying. This can be done with short and quick questions, such as “Did I hear you right?” “Am I following you?” “Did I get that right?” “Was there anything I missed?” These statements are helpful since you may have understood some of what the speaker said but missed a critical piece of information that the speaker can then clarify.
If the speaker speaks at length, it can be helpful to summarize what they said. This helps the speaker know if you are tracking and lets them know that you are getting the gist of what they are saying. You don’t have to capture every detail of what they said, but if you can get the “heart” of what they said, this boosts healthy communication.

Making observations facilitates open and honest conversation. When you can notice and verbalize your observation that the speaker is hesitant, nervous, sad, happy, excited, or confused, that lets the speaker know you are paying attention and that you are interested. Noticing tone of voice, body language, mood, and emotional expression helps the speaker feel safe and can draw more out from them.

It can also help the speaker process what they are feeling more effectively.
Open-Ended Questions:
Open-ended questions are questions that typically start with “how” or “what.” But they can be phrased in different ways, too. They are intended to help the speaker process what they are feeling and thinking. It is not intended to elicit a “yes” or “no” response. These are closed-ended questions. They are more about exchanging information than processing.
You can give another person reassurance by making statements that let the other person know you are interested in what they are saying, you are taking them seriously and you care about how they feel. People sometimes doubt the sincerity of the listener and feel the need to self-protect by either lashing out or shutting down. Reassurance diffuses that fear by letting the speaker know you care about what they are saying.
The resource and article we chose for this month's blog is from
Our blog content offers a variety of meaningful topics
and resources for you and your family.
WELCOME! We are so happy to have you join us!
I’m Diana Kendros, the founder, designer, co-writer of our Trauma Talk Blog Series.
My good friend, Jan Sickler, is our dedicated writer and editor. We are both nationally certified mental health educators, and we teach family members, caregivers, medical and physical therapy students.
Together, we created our blog series because we are parents with lived experience, that is, as parents we have seen our loved ones, our family members and our close friends, suffer from the ​anguish and havoc​ that trauma-related experiences inflict.

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As always, thanks for reading, and we appreciate all the wonderful comments!
Diana and Jan