Therapist: It pays to listen

Tyre-ing fun: A contestant taking part in the Live Great Challenge at the Health Fair in MidValley Exhibition Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
PHOTO: Therapist: It pays to listen

KUALA LUMPUR - Active listening can improve relationships even turbulent ones.

According to marriage and family therapist Dr Johnben Loy, active listening is key to better communication, including among husbands and wives.

Loy showed visitors at The Star Health Fair a video of a couple who initially were engaged in a heated argument appeared to be calmer and to have a better understanding after practising active listening.

"For example, a wife asks her husband to do something and when he does not, anger and a heated argument ensues.

"But through active listening, both parties try to understand each other and where they are coming from," he said during the Great Eastern talk entitled "Improve Yourself and Your Relationships through Active Listening" at the fair, which ended yesterday.

Great Eastern, which was a partner at the three-day fair, promotes healthy living through its Live Great Programme which focuses on health, wellness and family.

Adapting from speaker Julian Treasure, Loy said "Rasa" (receive, acknowledge, summarise and ask) was key in active listening.

"Receive means completely paying attention to what the other person is saying and being receptive while acknowledging shows you are engaged and interested.

"Nodding your head and stating 'yes', 'I see' or 'uh huh' does not mean you agree with the person but shows you are listening," he said.

Summarising, Loy said, enabled one to ensure he understood the other person.

"Also ask questions to clarify and ascertain your feelings if you are mad, glad, sad or scared.

"Active listening is a two-way process.

"Take turns to listen and 'Rasa' one another," he added.

Loy said there were certain communication filters that get in the way of effective communication, including inattention; emotional states such as anger or sadness; expectations influencing behaviours; different styles of talking; and self-protection.

He said active listening could also result in better work performance and reduce conflict and stress which translate to happier family relationships.