Q4 Identify your own blocks to listening and learning. (1.4)
To identify my own blocks to listening and learning I have to be honest with myself, and accepting that I have limits and boundaries. My main blocks are:
• Feeling unwell or tired, hungry, thirsty or needing to use the toilet. If I am tired I can switch off especially if the conversation is dull. When in pain I can become distracted and irritable. I fidget and become restless. A massive block to me is time. As a busy mother, partner, worker etc. I find it hard to allocate appropriate time especially for studying.
• I find the communicator attractive/unattractive and I pay more attention to how I feel about the communicator and their physical appearance than to what they are saying. Perhaps I simply don’t like the client – I may mentally argue with the client and be fast to criticise, either verbally or in my head.
• I am not interested in the topic/issue being discussed and become bored.
• Not focusing and being easily distracted, fiddling with my hair, fingers, a pen etc. or gazing out of the window or focusing on objects other than the client.
• Distracted: When I am distracted by my own thoughts and feelings, especially when the clients trigger them with something that they have said.
• Identifying rather than empathising – understanding what I am hearing but not putting myself in the shoes of the client. As most of us have a lot of internal self-dialogue we spend a lot of time listening to our own thoughts and feelings – it can be difficult to switch the focus from ‘I’ or ‘me’ to ‘them’ or ‘I’. Effective listening involves opening my mind to the views of others and attempting to feel empathetic.
• Sympathising rather than empathising – sympathy is not the same as empathy, I sympathise when I feel sorry for the experiences of another, to empathise is to put myself in the position of the other person and focus on their feelings and not mine.
• I may be prejudiced or biased by race, gender, age, religion, accent, and/or past experiences.
• I have preconceived ideas or bias – effective listening includes being open-minded to the ideas and opinions of others, this does not mean I have to agree but should listen and attempt to understand.
• I make judgements, thinking, for example that a person is not very bright or is under-qualified so there is no point listening to what they have to say.
• Assumption – I do this as a habit as often at work I need to come to quick solutions in business meetings.
• Previous experiences – we are all influenced by previous experiences in life. We respond to people based on personal appearances, how initial introductions or welcomes were received and/or previous interpersonal encounters. If we stereotype a person we become less objective and therefore less likely to listen effectively.
• Preoccupation – when we have a lot on our minds we can fail to listen to what is being said as we’re too busy concentrating on what we’re thinking about. This is particularly true when we feel stressed or worried about issues.
• Having a Closed Mind – we all have ideals and values that we believe to be correct and it can be difficult to listen to the views of others that contradict our own opinions. The key to effective listening and interpersonal skills more generally is the ability to have a truly open mind – to understand why others think about things differently to I and use this information to gain a better understanding of the client.
• Sudden Changes in Topic: When the listener is distracted they may suddenly think about something else that is not related to the topic of the client and attempt to change the conversation to their new topic.
• Selective Listening: This occurs when the listener thinks they have heard the main points or have got the gist of what the client wants to say. They filter out what they perceive as being of key importance and then stop listening or become distracted.
• Daydreaming: Daydreaming can occur when the listener hears something that sets off a chain of unrelated thoughts in their head – they become distracted by their ‘own world’ and adopt a ‘far-away’ look.
• Advising: Some people want to jump in early in a conversation and start to offer advice before they fully understand the problem or concerns of the client.
• Thinking ahead of what I want to say when others are speaking., which comes from a need to ensure I have my influence (own ego).
• Being Right: Being right means that I will go to any length (twist the facts, start shouting, make excuses or accusations, call up past sins) to avoid being wrong. My convictions are unshakeable.
• Placating: “Right, Right, Right, Absolutely, I know, of course you are Incredible. Yes, Really? I want to be nice, pleasant, supportive. I want people to like me. So you agree with everything.
I am conscious of all the above and hence am very careful to make sure that at any one time I do not let them affect my helping relationship.

Q5 Describe the benefits of giving and receiving feedback for personal development. (1.5)
a) Benefits of giving feedback
b) Benefits of receiving feedback

Just before exploring the benefits of feedback, it may be helpful first, to set the scene about personal development.
Personal development and growth seems to come from a combination of life experiences, personal endeavour and achievement, including the essential interactions with others. It is also enabled and enhanced through consciously increasing one’s own self-awareness of own thoughts, feelings, actions and behaviours; based both on the past and what we might intend for the future. By growing our self-awareness, we gain greater insight in where we might need to focus our personal development efforts.
A main way to increase self-awareness is from receiving constructive feedback from others on how our behaviours are perceived by them and what our behaviours may imply about ourselves in terms of motivation or attitude, values and beliefs. Sometimes it is important to understand, through feedback, how we impact others through our behaviour, what we say and how we say it. In this way, feedback on ourselves gives us the opportunity to consider whether we want to use the information towards our own personal growth.
It could be that by collecting feedback from a number of different people, a picture can be built about oneself through the shared views of others. This is like a consensus view of one’s own attributes or weaknesses, of which previously we may not have been aware.

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