This is Part 2 of A story for you
I have re-posted Part 1 below:
What is my story? I wasn’t as lucky as Joe, but I know that I could make up one fairy tale story, rather than a real one. However, I have been offered voluntary redundancy once, so I understand how it feels, to lose one’s job.
Here is The situation: Wonderland-in Blogoland
One Monday evening the following conversation took place over a virtual chat room:
Paul: I don’t feel that I’m really a competent educator. Sometimes I…
Educator: (Interrupted) You don’t feel competent? What do you mean?
Paul: As I was going to say, sometimes I feel intimidated by my friend and…
Educator: You feel intimated? What’s it? Why didn’t you try this way?.. bla bla bla… I couldn’t believe it! You fail if you are intimidated by other people. You will not be respected in future. Bla bla bla…
Paul: I am trying to explain this to you – (Paul RAISED his VOICE) it’s because my hands and feet are tied…
Educator: Your hands and feet are tied? I don’t understand! You mean you can’t control your emotions? May be you are not tough enough in controlling yourself when you are feeling anxious? Aren’t you?
Paul: I don’t think so. Last week, my friend agreed to work with me on a project that needed to be completed on-time, the project X with a Client. He left work early when I specifically instructed him to finish an important task he was doing before he went home. The task wasn’t completed, and I was left accountable for the mess he had created…
Educator: (Interrupted…) You felt angry, betrayed, and would obviously have reprimanded him. I’m sure that you would like to scream to express your anger.
Paul: No, actually, I felt disappointed in myself; I was hurt and embarrassed. I shouldn’t have left it like that…
Educator: But aren’t you really angry and just afraid of expressing it?
Paul: I said I wasn’t, and I don’t appreciate being analyzed when I come to you with..
Educator: Are you feeling uncomfortable with my judgment? I am an educator, do trust me….
Paul: I really don’t want to discuss this any more. You just don’t listen to me!
Educator: Oh! then…
Does this sound familiar to you? The educator was puzzled a bit on the responses from Paul and tried to figure out the reasons.
If you were the educator, what were the reasons of such poor communication in the chat room?
How would you respond instead?
After the conversation, the educator was puzzled with the responses from Paul. This is the situation where the educator might have used an improper approach in communicating with Paul. Based on an analysis of the conversation, the educator realized that the use of reflective listening on Paul was inappropriate. The following is an analysis of some of the possible reasons for poor communication.
1. The educator has misinterpreted some of Paul’s feelings. The educator thought that Paul was feeling angry, betrayed and that he wished to scream as a result of his friend’s behavior, whereas actually he was not feeling that way. The educator imposed his judgement on Paul – that he was really angry with his friend. Paul was annoyed by the educator’s misinterpretation, which was reflected in his tone of voice.
2. The educator ceased to pay attention to what was being said because he was more concerned with expressing his views such as “You fail if you are intimidated by other people. You will not be respected in future. Bla bla bla…”
3. The educator has not been empathetic in listening as he said that Paul was afraid of expressing his anger. He also commented that Paul was not tough enough and this made Paul felt uneasy and dis-empowered.
4. The educator interrupted the conversation. He has asked too many questions at one time. This reflected the impatience of the educator in listening to Paul.
In summary, the educator has not been effective in listening to Paul in the conversation. He also realized that he has not been successful in helping Paul to arrive to any solution. Paul didn’t want to discuss the issue further in the conversation.
Use of appropriate reflective listening
In order to improve the educator’s listening skills and establish a good rapport with Paul, the educator prepared himself and approached Paul again on this issue in the following Monday evening. The following conversation took place in a private virtual chat/video room:
Educator: Paul, you told me about your work as an educator, would you like to tell me more about it?
Paul: I don’t feel that I’m really a competent educator. Sometimes I feel intimidated by others and I really don’t have the power I need to exercise my authority.
Educator: You don’t have the power you need?
Paul: That’s right. I talked to my supervisor once about the situation, but I really didn’t say what I meant. I think I was scared he’d get angry.
Educator: You were afraid of his anger? Huh?
Paul: Yes, I was, but I’m beginning to realize that if I’m going to resolve my feelings of impotence, I’ve got to confront the situation directly with him. If I don’t, I would just keep my feelings inside and could never express it properly.
Educator: How about your colleague who didn’t complete the task as required? Could you tell me more about it?
Paul: Oh yes, on the week before, one of my colleagues (who is also my friend) left work early when I specifically instructed him to finish a task he was doing before he went home. The task wasn’t completed, and I was left accountable for the mess he had created. I was reprimanded by my supervisor. I confronted my colleague, but I don’t think I really asserted myself enough.
Educator: You must have been very upset.
Paul: I wasn’t just upset, I was also very embarrassed and disappointed in myself. In fact, I think I could have handled the situation more effectively than I did.
Educator: I see. Being disappointed in yourself is not a good feeling.
Paul: No, surely not. I was not quite sure about how to handle the situation; I really felt incompetent. If a situation like that occurs again next time, I’m going to let people know how I honestly feel instead of avoiding my responsibility. It’s not easy to do, I understand… I feel better about understanding what I was really feeling, and I’m going to confront the situation again when I return to work.
Educator: Hmm (nodding his head). It sounds like you’re more comfortable about it now. I’m glad you have shared your feelings with me.
Paul: Oh! Yes. Thanks for helping me. You mentioned about assertion in our previous conversation, could you tell me a bit more about it so that I could apply it in this case.
Educator: Well, let’s see…
1.What were the improvements made by the educator in this conversation?
2. If you were the educator, what further improvements would you like to make?
3. Have you got an online experience (such as conversation) where you found you were not being listened to? How did you feel? What would you recommend in order to improve listening?
Important: I made up this story for learning purpose only, and none of the characters mentioned are real.
Do not use this for submission to any assignments you may be required to do in a course. If you think the concepts behind are suitable for your course in teaching, please feel free to use it as an example problem of reflective listening.
I will provide an analysis of the improvements made in a future post, if you are interested. Again, you might have arrived with a much better response to the above case story.
There are more than one right answer to the story!