How Active Listening Can Help Canadian Veterans and Their Families Improve Communication

Effective communication is key when it comes to the relationships between Canadian veterans and their families. However, it is often difficult to communicate in a way that effectively expresses one’s thoughts and feelings. Active listening can be a practical tool to aid in communication by ensuring that both parties are fully present and engaged in the conversation. Here are some tips on how Canadian veterans and their families can implement active listening in their communication.

Be Present

When engaging in conversation, ensure you are entirely present in the moment by maintaining eye contact, avoiding distractions, and not thinking about what you will say next. This helps the other person feel valued and heard, and likely to open up.

Seek Understanding

When listening actively, try to get a full understanding of what the person is trying to say. Ask questions and summarize in your own words what you think the speaker is saying to ensure you have correctly understood.

Be Open to Different Perspectives

When actively listening, it’s also essential to be open to different perspectives. One should not just be validating your own beliefs, but respectfully consider the person’s perspective. Remind oneself that just because an opinion is different, it does not automatically mean it is wrong.

Avoid Interrupting

Interrupting distracts from what the person is trying to say and can be counter-productive to effective communication. Allow them to speak and finish their point before adding your input.

Validate Emotions

Validating emotions is essential in building a stronger and effective relationship. Acknowledge the emotions of the other; empathize with feelings, and convey understanding through validating statements such as “I understand how frustrated you are.”

Be Curious

When listening actively, it’s important to ask questions to acquire clarity and deepen one’s understanding of what the person is saying. The questions posed should be about learning or gaining more insight, not about being critical or defensive.

Tenacity in Listening

Active listening is an acquired skill that requires practice, be patient and responsive. With persistence, it can become a habit and lead to more meaningful, effective communication.

In summary, active listening is a powerful tool that can help Canadian veterans and their family members connect, understand each other better, and communicate more effectively. By being present in the moment, seeking understanding and being open to different perspectives, avoiding interrupting and validating emotions, and continuing to learn and practice, effective communication can improve, relationships can be strengthened, and mental health can be promoted.