January 27, 2008

Active listening can be too active

When reading Profgrrrrl's account of two admiring students' comments, which left her in very different places afterwards, I had the same reaction as she did. Very briefly, one student projected a whole bunch of assumptions onto Profgrrrrl's life, while the other didn't.

Projections are dangerous, especially when you're doing it because you're trying to reach out to someone. I know that because of my own experiences having others project onto me when they're trying to be nice or solicitous. I try to keep my grumbles to myself.

And if I ever forget, my daughter will remind me that "active listening" can be too active. "You must be-" "No, you don't know what I'm thinking." And I don't.

So with all due respect for Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (whose books are otherwise wonderful for parents of young children), projecting psychological conclusions onto someone else's words or actions is pretty foolish.

Listen to this article
Posted in Random comments on January 27, 2008 7:54 AM |