The Better You Listen (Part 2)

January 26, 2011 Peter Zawistowski

The better you listen, the more you will know. It may sound very simple and it is. Listening takes up more of your waking hours than any other activity. Of your waking hours, 70% of them are spent communicating. Writing takes up 9%, reading 16%, talking is 30% and listening is 45% of communicating hours. THE underrated business tool is good listening.

Those with bipolar disorder not only have the same communication problems as those without bipolar but the bipolar blocks to listening may be more severe and more frequent.
Blocks to listening include:
1. Preconceived ideas and thoughts, defer judgments
2. Inability to relax, focus and concentrate with the moment at hand
3. Talking too much or interrupting too often
4. Thinking of responses during the communication process
5. A lack of interest in the conversation
6. Not showing that you are listening

How can those with bipolar disorder improve their listening skills? Last week's blog covered items 1 through 3, let's cover the remaining three bipolar blocks. How can those with bipolar disorder improve their listening skills? Let's refer back to listening blocks list and make some suggestions.

Thinking of responses during the communication. This is the “Bigger Fish” syndrome. This is when you do not wait long enough for the speaker to finish what they want to communicate and for you to absorb it. Instead you take the first bite of conversational bait that triggers a response in you. You have to put away distracting thoughts. Don't mentally prepare a rebuttal on part of the information. Give all of what is said consideration. Defer judgment, interrupting is a waste of time and it limits the understanding of the speaker's message.

A lack of interest in the conversation is another type of difficulty in “Active Listening.” Active listening is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words in the conversation but also trying to understand the entire message being sent. This doesn't mean comprehending each word a s a dictionary. It means taking the words in context to understanding the meaning of the phrase, sentence and body language presented (more on the subject in another biog). Understanding of body language with its small smiles, eyebrow position and eye motion are just part of body language and active listening. For some with bipolar, body language is a tough learn. It s part of and sometimes the most important part of listening.

Not showing that you are listening can be deceiving. Those with bipolar may have an unconscious side-to-side eye movement (darting). A blank expression may be present on the bipolar face. These actions could easily be interpreted as a non-listening action. This may affect the speaker's delivery, his speed may quicken to end sooner. Or his speed could slow down, hoping for more interest and comprehension from others. Providing feedback to the speaker with phrases such as “Sounds like are saying: or “What I am hearing” can be used sparingly to balance out non-listening actions.

Whether you are speaking in public with an audience at a small business meeting, listening to one or involved in a conversation; listening is just as important as what is being said. Old habits are hard to break. The bipolar condition typically prefers a routine, making very difficult to change a behavior. It takes a lot of concentration to be a good listener.

APA Reference
Zawistowski, P. (2011, January 26). The Better You Listen (Part 2), HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Peter Zawistowski

Peter Zawistowski
February, 10 2011 at 6:06 am

I believe that active listening, body language comprehension and the ability to relax and concentrate at the moment at hand, are all part of a learned response. In my case, active listening along with CBT helped tremendously in re-learning my responses in conversation. Body language, especially facial expressions are my next area for improvement. My opinion is CBT along with exercises in active listening will help the bipolar sufferer in establishing a base for communicating with various individuals especially spouse and close friends

Dr Musli Ferati
February, 9 2011 at 8:24 pm

The communication as exchange of messages between people indicates very much on our mental state. The main handicap of communication for any interlocutor is the feeling of non-listening from others. Therefore the skill to be be an active listener is crucial premise for a good conversation. When it is question for bipolar disorder person the matter becomes most complicated. The same person has an inner impulse to talk in compulsive style, without waiting to understand what did want to say the others. Also, their instant to answer at every extern stimulation detriment their social relation. In consequence, the need that bipolar ill person ought to practice the good listening aptitude promises too much in integral treatment of this psychic disease. Your pretention, Mr. Zawistowski, introduces a highlight suggestion on successful overcoming the difficulties of relationship of bipolar illness person.

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