At the top of the list is listening. I positioned it first because I honestly believe it's the most important people skill you can have. (See Listening - The No. 1 People Skill.)
Also, I've posted several articles about adolescent behavior and what I call "the teen journey." In one article I emphasize the three most helpful things parents can offer a teen during this perilous phase of life: unconditional love, people skills and guidance. The people skills I recommend for parents are the same eight skills I recommend for coaches - with listening at the top.
When Dr. Thomas Gordon published his classic book on parenting, P.E.T. (Parent Effectiveness Training), the flagship skill was listening. And for good reason. A good listener can avoid or resolve most parent-child communication issues.
- Giving encouragement
- Engaging in dialogue
- Resolving conflict
- Giving constructive feedback
- Receiving feedback
- Helping people think for themselves
- Guiding learning
About 25 years ago I felt I had reached some kind of plateau in my personal growth, so I began seeing a counselor. After several months of weekly conversations with him, I had all the insights I needed to begin a new learning journey. The most impressive thing about him was his listening skills. He was some kind of a Zen Grand Master of listening. I was no slouch as a listener myself, but he made me feel like a novice. I realized that the skill of listening is a little like golf or chess. No matter how good you get, you can always get better. As a result, I resolved to resume working on my own listening skills.
In my life, most of the trouble I've had in relationships came from poor listening. And most of my successes came from listening well.
It's that important.
Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength .