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Lesson 10. Active Listening Skills > Listening Actively, Talking Freely - Pg. 58

58 Chapter 10. Active Listening Skills In this lesson, you learn the importance of practicing good listening skills during the interview. Listening Actively, Talking Freely Several years ago, I completed a graduate program in therapeutic counseling. My hope was to be able to help people regain control of their lives after experiencing some type of psychological trauma. One of the things I learned back then, and have since had reinforced more times than I care to count, is that counselors really can't help anyone until they know what the problem is--and counselors can't know what the problem is until clients tell them. Active listening skills, one of the most important tools that a counselor has to work with, help en- courage clients to talk freely and openly about problems and difficulties that they're facing. And the more freely a client talks about problems, the better equipped the counselor is to help. Getting people to talk about subjects that they may not want to discuss is the first step in any effective therapeutic intervention. Plain English Active listening --An interview technique, with origins in the field of psychotherapy, that helps assure candidates that the interviewer is listening to them intently. Active listening involves encouraging candidates to talk openly and freely by often reflecting back to them the meaning of their communication, both verbal and nonverbal, in ways that promote fur- ther exploration and awareness. Interviewing candidates for employment involves the same basic challenge. To hire the right person for a job, it's necessary to gain a real understanding of each candidate who applies. It's important to know who they are, how they think, what their goals and aspirations are, and whether they have the competencies needed to be successful in the job. But to evaluate each candidate fairly and accurately, the interviewer must obtain the necessary information, and that means getting the candidate to talk even about subjects that may be uncom- fortable to discuss (past failures, weaknesses, problems with former employers or co-workers, and so on). The more the candidate talks, the better the interviewer understands the candidate and can decide whether he or she is qualified for the position. Tip Be sure that your questions about a candidate's weaknesses or past failures have direct application to the job he or she is seeking. Past problems that involve a candidate's personal life are not appropriate for discussion during the interview process. The Benefits of Active Listening Active listening skills promote warmth and honest communication. But even more important, they help strip away superficial levels of communication by encouraging candidates to talk about skill- related experiences and the deeper personal meanings that often accompany them.