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Topic: How To Listen More Effectively.

May 5th 2013 Meeting Notes for the Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group

Return to Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group Previous Notes Page


Facilitator: Pete Quily.

Thanks to Christopher Stanbury for taking the notes.

Many adults with ADHD have problems with listening effectively to other people. Poor listening skills can hurt them at work, academically, in their marriage, and in their personal relationships.

How To Listen More Effectively.


1. Listening Skills


A. Benefits


Shows respect

Get the job done properly

Better professional and personal relationships

Less confusion


B. Costs of not listening effectively





Social status


C. Barriers



Working on our own answer, or what we want to say

Thinking of response vs listening fully to speaker



Worrying about the future

Focusing on self - not on the person speaking

Difficulty in focusing

Monotone speech - not interesting

Zone out


Your own anxiety

Background noise

Medication working / not working

Wanting to be somewhere else

Appearing to be not listening

Day dreaming


D. Feelings affect listening


Will influence your behavior

Hyper-focusing on topic mentioned will take you off into your own world

You show lack of interest


Playing with phone


E. Priorities


Working on answer you think they want

Have already made decision


Body language


Bad listening habits

Not providing non-verbal clues to speaker that you are listening

Uncomfortable with topic - have a bias


2. Listening is not the same as hearing


Listening requires:

  • focus
  • self talk
  • paying attention to how people are saying it

Wanting to tell your own story rather than listening and responding to their story doesn't go over well with others

There is a fine line between empathizing and hijacking the conversation

Pay attention to speakers:

  • body language
  • way of speaking
  • emotion

Listening effectively shows respect

Not bothering to pay effectively attention to the speaker can show contempt and arrogance


3. What makes listening better?




Things that show you want to listen

Let speaker know if you can't hear them

Constructive feedback

Eliminate distractions

Ask relevant questions:

  • for clarification
  • for example
  • for visuals

Clarify for understanding. Repeat in your own words "Am I getting what you are saying correctly?"

Slow the pace

Acknowledge and respond


Perception checking

Give positive reinforcement - without interrupting

Stay calm - show you are listening

Put yourself in other person's place

Acknowledge your own feelings / emotions

Acknowledge what you agree with

Summarize the main points you agree on

The more you actively engage in the coversation, the easy it is for you to pay attention

The more you're a passive, disengaged listener, the harder it is for you to pay attention and the easier it is for you to tune out, miss things etc


Non-verbal signs


Eye contact

Facing the person squarely on

Keeping hands and feet still, heart caring

Smiling - facial expression - mirroring

Trying to be attentive


Nod your head (if in agreement - not as if falling asleep)

Not fidgeting, doodling, rolling your eyes


4. Summary


Be prepared to listen

Use more than your ears

Don't finish other people's sentences

Get other things out of your head

Stop talking

Practice focusing on one thing:




Put the speaker at ease

Be open minded, be there

Give them time to finish, be patient


Avoid personal prejudice

Listen to ideas - not just words

Don't second guess

When wrong - admit it

Face speaker

Maintain eye contact without staring them down like a cowboy at a gunfight

Minimize distractions

Respond appropriately

Focus on what person is saying - not on what you want to hear

Minimize internal distractions

Wait until the speaker is finished

Don't interrupt when the speaker is complaining about you - wait until they are finished so they will feel they got their message across, and not needing to keep repeating it - before you defend yourself.

Be attuned to where you are

If you're feeling angry or threatened say something like "I want to hear what you want to say, but at the present moment it is not a good time for me - can we talk about this at another time?"





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