Listen Up

Greg decides to zig from his most recent line of discussion partly inspired by some new clients seeking relationship counseling. He shares that we don’t just learn how to cope and react based on past experiences, we learn how to listen and react as well which places us squarely back in autopilot and avoidance mode. Greg talks about active listening, being vulnerable, and how important it is that our partners FEEL heard. Next week Greg will talk about the steps to be a better active listener.

Thinking with People

Greg and Stacy start with a brief recap from the last show when a call comes in from Maureen in Everett. Maureen shares she has an adult daughter with MS who’s experienced multiple traumas and likely experiences PTSD; she confesses she struggles to listen to her daughter because she goes on and on and has refused counseling. Greg offers some suggestions and support for Maureen and her daughter before turning to today’s topic of thinking with people. Greg gives a simple solution to practice for staying present and in the moment so the other person can feel heard.

Who’s Listening?

Greg is back live from an extended break; he shares what he was doing and what he noticed while away. His biggest takeaway was our innate need for social connection with others and how that connection ideally goes beyond just words. To truly connect we need to listen for total meaning, not default to trying to solve for what we perceive to be the problem, make it about ourselves, or dismiss what we’re hearing all together. Greg also shares interesting information about the power of the heart as a second “energetic” brain which leads to a bigger conversation.

Our Bias Means Intent Gets Lost in Translation

Greg and Stacy review what they discussed last week about listening for intent AND content, and they talk a bit more about the power of our two “brains;” the brain and the heart. Greg picks up where he left off to discuss more about how our past experiences influence what we hear and how we hear it. He explains that listening with our hearts creates empathy which bridges the gap between our own past, and what is being shared presently. Greg shares some heavy truths which are lightened with ideas for how to approach communicating with curiosity, lack of judgement, and a heavy dose of self-awareness and humor.

Bridging the Gap

Greg picks up where he left off on the topic of listening and how we should listen with context, intent and awareness of our own interpretation; something he refers to as “the fluffy stuff.” He comments that today’s norm is forcing a point of view rather than listening to, understanding or respecting other’s points of view. We have Fixer Bias, we can be attributed to an inability on the Fixer’s part to feel, share and express emotions. That makes it increasingly difficult to bridge the gap and find common ground.

Fixing The Fixer

Greg continues to talk about the topic of listening and how when we listen it’s usually with cognitive bias or as a “Fixer.” He spends a lot of time talking about “The Fixer” and their origin story; where their need for answers, control and fear of emotion began. He also explains why they need to be met with compassion versus frustration. Stacy asks lots of questions on the topic since she relates to The Fixer.

Fixated on the Fixer

Greg continues to talk about how our frame of reference when listening is through the lens of Cognitive Bias which results in our brains filtering the information we process. This can lead to short-cuts that leave out significant information and sensitivities. Greg goes on to explain the two types of cognitive bias he sees most often and how they impact our ability to listen. Often one partner hijacks an interaction because of their need for validation and respect; essentially ignoring the other’s need for same. Stacy continues to pepper Greg with questions as she searches for answers for her and other “Fixers” out there.

Still Fixated on the Fixer

Greg reviews how two types of cognitive bias impact our listening abilities in relationships with others and shares that being present doesn’t mean literally; it means being present in intent and emotional engagement. He reminds listeners that “fixers” often unintentionally hijack engagements because they were likely not permitted to be right or were often corrected resulting in low self-esteem and coping mechanisms. Regardless of origin, “fixers” don’t develop a sufficient emotional vocabulary and emotions provide the needed input for managing ourselves and responding effectively to others. He shares other “fixer” traits and offers hope that the autopilot can be rerouted in a positive direction.

Greg Kiper Counseling
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