Active Listening Skills Essay Sample

Active Listening Skills Pages
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I interviewed Ronnie Macko, a nurse educator at Select Medical Corporation and Chris Schillig a high school and college level English instructor. I had to conduct the interviews at separate times because of schedule conflicts. The interviews were conducted using the list of coaching/ mentoring questions that our team had developed in week 3. I will attach each instructor’s individual responses to the end of the paper for review.

During the instructor interviews active listening skills were used. Listening is used for many purposes. Listening is used to gain important information, gain understanding, learning, and also enjoyment. Most people retain approximately twenty-five to fifty percent of what we hear. In reality this translates to when we speak for about ten minutes we are lucky if the person we are addressing remembers half of what we have said. On the flip side, when we are the listeners we can easily see how we aren’t receiving the whole message. This can be a disaster if the part we are missing contains important information such as directions. Working at improving listening skills is very important. Improving listening skills and becoming a better listener can help increase productivity and also help avoid misunderstandings and conflict.

A way to improve listening skills is called active listening. Active listening involves making a conscious effort to hear as well as understand the message that is being sent by the person speaking. This involves paying close attention to the person as they are speaking. It is important to stay focused and engaged in the conversation. It is important to avoid becoming distracted and bored with the conversation.

During the interviews I practiced active listening skills. I also tried to show the instructor I was engaged in the conversation and wanted to hear and understand their responses to my questions. Ways of acknowledgment can include simple things as a head nod, simple replies such as yes or uh-huh so the speaker knows you are listening to what they are saying. Body language can also help indicate that you are listening and paying attention and will help keep the listener focused and avoid the mind from wandering. Responses during the conversation such as additional questions based on the conversation can help recap and clarify the communication occurring. This also helps the speaker know that you are understanding the message concepts they are conveying. Five components of active listening are; paying attention, showing that you are listening, providing feedback, deferring judgment, and responding appropriately. During the interviews I stayed focused on the instructor and what they were saying by looking at them directly.

I used body language such as nodding and smiling to show that I was paying attention. I used paraphrasing to clarify certain points of the conversation. I also tried to summarize the speaker’s points to show I was listening. I allowed the speaker to finish their statements before asking another question. Interrupting is rude and frustrating to the speaker. It can also not allow them to make their full statement which can change the meaning of the statement. Finally I made sure I treated the speakers with the upmost respect. In conclusion, active listening is a skill that takes practice and constant remediation. Old habits are hard to break and I am one who is always thinking of other things and has to constantly refocus and make sure I am listening. This is an area I definitely need to work on and improve. I was able to stay focused during the interviews and found the responses of the instructors helpful. I have done some mentoring of new employees and clinical education of respiratory skills but my experience in the education field is very limited. I felt the assignment was a nice way to connect the information that we have learned in class and apply it to the everyday education setting of coaching and mentoring.

Coach/Mentor questions: Ronnie Macko, BSRN Nurse Educator
1. Name two qualities of an effective coach or mentor?
Must be a good listener and non-judgmental.
2. Why do you want to be a mentor?

I enjoy watching nurses grow in knowledge, skill and confidence and feel great gratification in helping them grow and develop their skills. 3. How do you incorporate constructive criticism into the student’s feedback? First, you have to develop an effective coach/mentor relationship with the development of mutual respect. Touch base with you mentee regularly and praise them on jobs well done and goals met. When constructive criticism is needed, ask them to explain the situation and ask if there is anything they should have done differently. Give encouragement and share personal experiences especially if they are not sure what they should have done differently. Review policies and procedures with them and give them a copy for easy reference.

End the conversation with praise for specific jobs well done and tell them you have confidence that they will do better in a similar situation the next time. 4. When meeting with a mentee for the first time, how do you start the initial conversation? Introduce yourself and share with them your professional history related to the job you are mentoring them for. Ask them to share their past experiences related to the job you are mentoring them for with you. 5. What are some examples of your problem solving techniques when coaching? Let the mentee explain the situation and how they think it could be solved. Review policies and procedures related to the incident. Refer the mentee to literature regarding the incident. Share

past experiences related to the incident. Have the mentee develop goals for solving the problem with measurable goals and set a date and time to discuss their progress. Follow up with the mentee in a day or two to check on their progress. Give positive feedback and encouragement. Continue follow up until no longer necessary but continue with praise and encouragement. 6. How do you deal with resistant individuals in a coaching situation? Meet with them and discuss the situation and their reason for resistance. Restate their response to be sure you understand them. Review policies and procedures again. Inform the mentee and involve another person of leadership to meet with the two of you to discuss the situation. Continue follow up and give encouragement and praise for progress. 7. What do you consider your coaching philosophy?

I am primarily coaching nurses in my current position. Nurses have graduated from a university and have a background in medical knowledge. They also have experiences as a student nurse. Some have been LPNs and have extensive experience. I believe in respecting their knowledge and experience and helping them build on it. 8. What makes you a unique coach or mentor?

I have over 40 years of nursing experience and I love to teach and coach. It is something that I feel I have been called to do and I really enjoy it. I have a very broad background in nursing which allows me to mentor in many areas. I also teach CPR and ACLS for the staff to better handle emergency situations that arise. 9. How would you, as a coach, handle constructive criticism from other coaches or mentors? I listen to what they have to say and then think about it. I may research more on the topic. I know that I don’t know everything. I ask advice from my peers and superiors. I utilize what they learn.

10. How often do you feel is enough time spent with someone you are a mentor to? Every day that I see my mentee I would ask how they are doing. If they were not in the same building, I would email them several times a week and ask how they are doing and if I could help them in any way. It depends on the individual how much attention they will need to ensure success. 11. How often do you use open ended questions, and do you think it is important to do so? Usually when initiating the relationship and then as needed. Open ended questions give you more in-depth answer and helps you better understand the person and / or the situation. Direct questions allow for only yes or no responses which don’t allow gauge appropriate understanding. 12. Do you feel recognition of mentees is important?

If so what ways have you done so in the past, or would consider using? It depends on the situation. Usually I would make a statement at a staff meeting that the new employee (mentee) has met criteria and is off orientation. I try to praise the mentee in public or private depending on the individual and the reason for the praise. Some things should be held private because of confidentiality. 13. What is your first course of action when having to deal with a difficult individual? Tell them we need to talk and invite them into my office. This types of conversations need to be private. This allows me to investigate the situation and find out what exactly is causing the resistance and difficulty to occur.

Coach/Mentor questions: Chris Schillig College and High school English instructor 1. Name two qualities of an effective coach or mentor?
Two qualities are empathy (the ability to put yourself in the situation of the student) and being a good, non-judgmental listener. 2. Why do you want to be a mentor?  By this, I assume you mean “teacher,” which has a heavy dose of mentoring involved. I’ve always enjoyed learning and sharing what I know, so teaching was a good way to combine these two traits. In my college level classes I teach remedial English. These students have often struggled during high school and are here with the hopes of obtaining a college degree. They often need a lot of mentoring and encouragement to continue. 3. How do you incorporate constructive criticism into the student’s feedback? When I grade papers, I sandwich constructive comments between positive statements of each student’s work.

So I give one compliment, then one constructive comment (“Have you ever considered trying …?” is a common way I phrase this), and then another compliment. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with audio feedback by recording my comments using the voice memo feature on my phone and then emailing the file to each student. 4. When meeting with a mentee for the first time, how do you start the initial conversation? Not sure how to respond to this. If it’s the first day of class, I try to set everybody at ease with an icebreaker activity or two. If it’s a one-on-one conference, that’s never the first time that a student and I have met. 5. What are some examples of your problem solving techniques when coaching?

I like the Socratic Method — asking a lot of questions, listening carefully to the responses, and drawing the solution out of the student. I try not to “prescribe,” but rather to guide the students to their own conclusions. 6. How do you deal with resistant individuals in a coaching situation? I remind them that the goal is to improve their reading/writing/problem-solving skills. I don’t play the “grade card” very often (“Your grade is riding on this”) because it does not encourage intrinsic motivation. 7. What do you consider your coaching philosophy?

My goal is to make myself unnecessary — I want the students to learn how to do for themselves. This includes where to go to find information and how to process it. I am a constructivist, so I want students to construct their own meanings from the material that I provide or that they find. 8. What makes you a unique coach or mentor?

I’m not sure that I am in any way unique or original. I just want wants best for my students and for them to succeed in their future endeavors. 9. How would you, as a coach, handle constructive criticism from other coaches or mentors? The same way I hope my students would: receptively, in the spirit of improvement. We all have room for improvement. It is helpful for others to observe us. They often see things that we can’t see. 10. How often do you feel is enough time spent with someone you are a mentor to? That’s different for each person and situation. As a teacher, I’m usually done mentoring a group when the semester or school year ends. Depending on the situation the amount of time each week varies. 11. How often do you use open ended questions, and do you think it is important to do so?

Not as often as I should, but I’m constantly trying to improve. This is definitely any area I can use self- improvement. I am not much of a conversationalist. I am direct and to the point in conversations and discussion. 12. Do you feel recognition of mentees is important? If so what ways have you done so in the past, or would consider using? My fellow teachers and I send birthday cards to all students. We try to get to know them — likes, dislikes, hobbies, and so forth. Helps build a better bond and show that we care about them as our student. 13. What is your first course of action when having to deal with a difficult individual? I allow them to vent for a little while. Once they’ve gotten it all out, we can start to look for areas of agreement and commonality. Often it is just a way for the students to show their frustration.

Reference

(n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2013, from Active Listening Hear What People
are Really saying: http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm

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