Active Listening 3

We all know of certain types of people who naturally gel with others around them. Endearingly known as ‘social butterflies’, they are socially dynamic and often found casually networking even with perfect strangers! It doesn’t matter what the situation is – at a birthday party, at the work place, even at a sports match even though they don’t follow the sport.

They light up a party, make people laugh and are generally good talkers and listeners.
Interestingly, this behaviour comes naturally to them. There is no preparation involved. Unless they genuinely dislike someone, they have no problems going along for the ride.What’s their secret?

This is where Chemistry comes in…

Our brain produces a hormone called ‘Oxytocin’ – also known as the ‘social bonding’ chemical. It is connected to our emotions and is associated with the ability to relax, the willingness to trust others and making strong social connections.

Ever wondered how a screaming child stops crying just a few seconds after a hug from the mother?

Why do you feel instantly relaxed when you meet your best friend?

Your favourite music, the aroma of your favourite dish, even colours lift your mood often. Why?

All of these are situations where your brain is pumping out Oxytocin into the blood, which instantly relaxes you.
Enough with the Chemistry lesson – let us see how Oxytocin helps you and your child through some of these Active Listening techniques:

  1. Compassionate listening:
    Try starting your conversation with your child by holding their hand – or sit close to them so your shoulders touch.
    Touching is one of the many ways to increase Oxytocin which produces a sense of closeness. Your child wants to know that you care about her and that you will do whatever possible to help. At the end of your conversation, if you can finish with a hug….even better!
  2. Eye contact :
    It goes without saying a sense of trust can be easily built if you can maintain eye contact and nod your head during your coversation with your child. It is a great tool for Active Listening – it lets you empathise with your child, validate his feelings and support in a non-judgemental way. You can feel the power of Oxytocin at work as you will see the conversation becoming easier and enjoyable with this technique.
  3. Open ended questions:
    Questions are generally ‘close ended’ (which means they can only be answered with a Yes / No). Open ended questions on the other hand encourages people to respond with long answers.

Here is an example. If you ask your child “Did you have a good day at school?”, the answer is probably an absent minded “Yes”.
But if you tweak the question like “What did the teacher say about the picture you drew / the song you wrote?” – your child will speak paragraphs and paragraphs about how the teacher really liked it, how she showed it to the whole class etc! (Indirectly, this has also helped you to conclude that your child had a good day at school, without asking the boring close ended question)

Open ended questions – make them your friend, boost some Oxytocin and make your child feel really relaxed.
All of the above techniques will help your child open up and feel relaxed in their surroundings. This feeling will stay with them when they are at school and even later on in life.

Which is why we have built these tools into our interactions with children at Little Harvard Early Education.

Finally, before I sign off – are there any parents out there worried about their bank account? Of course there are! But what about your ‘Emotional Bank Account (EBA)’?

Talk to you all soon to discuss what EBA is and how topping up the funds in your EBA is the next stage of Active Listening…

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