Listening in the Time of a Pandemic

“I really don’t want to go back to the office full-time. I think it’s too soon.” man with hands at head frustrated at work leadership

1. “What!? We need the money!…You need to go back!” (Ordering)
2. “If you don’t go back, you could get fired. Then what?” (Warning)
3. “You should’ve known this day would come.” (Moralizing)
4. “Why don’t you call your boss and talk about flex time?” (Advising)
5. “There’s no use putting it off. You’ll have to go back sometime.” (Using Logic)
6. “You’re just freaking yourself out and aren’t thinking clearly.” (Criticizing)
7. “Well, you’re such a loyal employee, I bet they will let you keep working from home.” (Praising)
8. “Oh please, you’re such a worrywart.” (Labeling)
9. “Maybe you are just using this as an excuse because you don’t really like your job anyway.” (Analyzing)
10. “Once you get used to the idea, you’ll probably start to feel okay about going back.” (Reassuring)
11. “What are you going to do about it then?” (Questioning)
12. “This isn’t a good time to talk about this—let’s get dinner ready.” (Avoiding)

Recognize these as the 12 Roadblocks to Communication? Often these responses are coming from a place of wanting to help. But in reality each of them block the other person from dealing with their problem. They stop him/her from expressing their deeper feelings and needs.

During this time of continuing stress, anxiety and uncertainty, it can be VERY challenging to Active Listen when someone else signals they have a problem. Active Listening takes emotional energy and effort which is in short supply right now for most of us around the planet.

Having said that, without this essential skill, relationships can become damaged or even ruptured. When someone you’re close to says something that signals to you that they’re upset, you being a person who’s skilled in the Gordon Model, Active Listens, right? Well, that’s the goal.

What if they say something that you know will impact you? What then??

Here’s the key: Sometimes you have to get yourself into an accepting mode. This doesn’t mean you’re being phony—it means you’re aware of what it takes to have and maintain a healthy, resilient relationship and in the moment when you hear the other’s upset, you can pause, and ask yourself, “What’s going on for them? For me? How can I best handle this?”

Recall the first line of Dr. Gordon’s Credo: “You and I are in a relationship which I value and want to keep.” This is really the litmus test.

Try to make a shift within yourself and find your Active Listening reserves. “Hmm, you sound pretty concerned about going back—want to talk about it?” could be an opening Active Listening response that would signal to the other person that you’re ready to hear them out.

An Active Listening response like this communicates: “I hear what you are feeling; I am interested and concerned; I’m not judging you.” It also shows that you care about the relationship.

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