Passive Listening: Stop arguments with partners, children, co-workers

Video Demo: Passive Listening

Passive Listening: Just Being Quiet, Not Interrupting!

This is going to be extremely basic… and, maybe, extremely difficult!! All you are going to do is exchange equal, timed, passive listening turns with the other person, instead of arguing.

But, it can also be the most extremely powerful and successful intervention you can make in your relationships, so, please, give it a try. Through our Free Instant “Ahah!”s Mini-Manual or our Self-Help Package or Phone Coaching/Consulting, you will learn even more powerful Focused  Listening skills which go way beyond passive listening. But for now, you are just going to practice passive listening – being quiet, listening, not interrupting. Try to imagine what the whole world could be like if everyone knew just this one, simple self-help skill!

Agreement On A Signal During A Peaceful Time

It helps to get an agreement from the other person ahead of time to give this process a try, so invite your significant others to read through these instructions and rationale with you when there is no battle on – in a peaceful, non-conflicted time, and see if they will agree to give this a try.

Then, you want to agree upon a signal you will use in the heat of the moment, when it is time to try the procedure – some simple word or action or gesture that someone can remember to use to bring an argument to a halt and start the agreed-upon new process.
So, the two of you need to agree upon a word or action that will be able to break through the argument and get everybody’s attention --- like “Turns!” or “Chairs!” or “Time Out” or sitting down on the floor or motioning the “Time out” signal referees use – or saying “popcorn!” or any ridiculous thing – something that can break through the intense energy and remind everyone of the agreement to try PASSIVE LISTENING TURNS.

Set A Timer and Take A Seat

Then, here is all you have to do. Get out a timer or a watch which you keep handy for this purpose and set it for five minutes. Sit down in chairs or on the floor, facing each other, but at a safe, comfortable distance. And now just start uninterrupted turns, first one person talking without interruption until the timer goes off , then setting the timer again and switching sides, the other person talking without interruption.


Yell At A Blank Wall

If there is a lot of anger initially, it can help to have each person turn toward a blank wall and shout at it, instead of directly at the other person…It’s a lot easier to hear the sense in someone’s anger when it is not landing directly on your body, paralyzing you.

As each person continues having turns, the initial bluster will run its course, and a more vulnerable, more creative, more flexible part will appear. New, creative possibilities and solutions, even warm feelings for the other person, will start to arise.

Just Keep Going

Just keep exchanging equal, timed turns until you get somewhere. And you will!!!! Simply from listening to what the other person has to say, instead of arguing, you will begin to understand new reasons for the person’s behavior or position….and this will happen in both directions.

And simply speaking, without being argued with or “fixed,” allows you to get below your initial reaction and into the deeper meanings under your response to the other. 

A clue: underneath anger, there is almost always a very vulnerable hurt, even tears, --when that comes out, it is very easy to love the other person. Underneath helpless, victim-like tears, there is often anger. That, too, can make the other person’s behavior more understandable.

Online Support For Conflict Resolution

By clicking on Free Instant “Ahah!”s Mini-Manual, you can sign up for our e-newsletter for continuing tips and practice in incorporating Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening into your home and work life.

Clicking Free Complete Focusing Instructions lets you sign up for our Creative Edge e-discussion/support group for actual advice and demonstration with Dr. McGuire of how to apply PRISMS/S in your every day life.

Or, you can arrange a Free Phone Consult with Dr. McGuire on how best to proceed in applying PRISMS/S and Creative Edge Focusing Pyramid of skills and methods in beginning to use Interpersonal Focusing to resolve interpersonal conflicts at home and at work.

Caution: Professional Help Needed?

Caution: if the two of you will not agree to stop arguing and take equal PASSIVE LISTENING TURNS as described above, then, there can be a bigger problem that needs addressing with a professional coach or counselor. Because, any time people can’t be equal, then there can be issues that can use professional help. Dr. McGuire can consult with you on how to proceed.

But, again, imagine what the whole world would be like if everyone knew just this one simple skill of “human literacy” and used it as automatically as reading and writing to diffuse angry situations!


Want to learn more about Focused Listening and Intuitive Focusing?

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These materials are offered purely as self-help skills. In providing them, Dr. McGuire is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.