Which activity involves the most amount of listening? Students spend 20 percent of all school related hours just listening. If television watching and one-half of conversations are included, students spend approximately 50 percent of their waking hours just listening. For those hours spent in the classroom, the amount of listening time can be almost 100 percent. Look at your own activities, especially those related to college, continuing education or any other formal training. Are most of your activities focused around listening, especially in the classroom?
If you ask a group of anger management students to give a one word description of listening, some would say hearing; however, hearing is physical. Listening is following and understanding the sound—it is hearing with a purpose. Good listening is built on three basic skills: attitude, attention, and adjustment. These skills are known collectively as “Triple-A” listening.
Listening is the absorption of the meanings of words and sentences by the brain. Listening leads to the understanding of facts and ideas. But listening takes attention, or sticking to the task at hand in spite of distractions. It requires concentration, which is the focusing of your thoughts upon one particular problem. A person who incorporates listening with concentration is actively listening. Active listening is a method of responding to another that encourages communication. Communication is one of the four components of anger management skill enhancement.
Listening is a very important skill, especially for anger management group facilitators. Many anger management facilitators tend to talk too much during a class. This defeats the purpose of anger management classes, which is to allow students to learn by discussion focused on the content in the anger management workbook. Rather than turning the session into a mini-lecture, tutors must actively listen and encourage their students to become active learners. Giving a student your full attention is sometimes difficult because you start to run out of time, or you find yourself thinking about your next question; however, the time you spend actively listening to your student will result in a quality tutoring session.
George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF, CEAP
Diplomat, American Association of Anger Management Providers
Anderson & Anderson®, The Trusted Name in Anger Management