I’m Holding The Spoon!

by Sherry Riter in Communication,Relationship,Tom

fortune cookie with listen quote

inattentive listening The definition of a verb is a word that is an “act, occurrence, or mode of being” according to Webster’s Dictionary. Listening is a verb and therefore an action which requires skill.

It is easy to wander off into our own thoughts when bored or in conflict, but also disrespectful and rude. When someone is making an effort to communicate, we owe them our attention just as we expect others to listen to us when we speak.

There are several things we need to do when actively listening.

  • Focus and stay focused on the other person.
  • Stop all non-relevant activities to avoid distractions from the message being communicated.
  • Control your emotions, opinions and do not formulate arguments as they are speaking.
  • Watch their body language to gather more understanding.
  • Repeat in your head the words spoken if your focus is waning.
  • Non-verbally acknowledge that you are listening with smiles, nods or leaning slightly toward the speaker.
  • Ask pertinent questions to clarify, but do not interrupt with your opinion.
  • When the speaker has finished, summarize what has been said to ensure that what you heard is truly the message they were trying to convey.
  • Now it is your turn to speak with respect, honesty, tact and a soft voice.

I'm holding the spoon!I have to admit up front that my husband does not like the spoon method, but I attribute it to the fact that he is in the field of psychology and sits with control of the room and the session timer. The spoon takes away his authority to be in control at all times. When in conflict each person should have uninterrupted time to speak their position and often a visual method can be used to assist. The first speaker holds a spoon in front of them and begins speaking. The second person must listen attentively and without interrupting until the spoon is passed to them which starts their speaking time. No matter what the other person is saying, the other person can not interrupt.

This will help the conversation and conflict resolution in several ways. There will not be any yelling into a frenzied heat of emotion because only one person is speaking and a response can not be given without relinquishing the right to speak by handing over the spoon. Also, it requires more attentive listening because you do not know when the spoon is going to be given back to you. The lack of interruptions during a conversation filled with conflict helps to increase the feeling of respectful speaking and acknowledges the importance of both opinions.

I hesitate to even mention this, but screaming, cussing or ignoring is not a part of respectful conversation. Let’s be frank…If you can’t speak nicely to one another, maybe the real question is why exactly are you staying together?

This is a perfect illustration of not only misunderstanding what was said, but also the need to speak clearly.

How do you ensure that you are actively listening instead of making the grocery list in your head?

Now I’m handing the spoon to you.

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This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bluecottonmemory November 19, 2009 at 5:15 am

Oh, aren't you the nimble finger typist! Congrats on being first in line at SITS! I become all thumbs!

I should carry a spoon around with me at all times to help me let the other person talk! LOL – and I should buy each of my sons a spoon so they will not interrupt each other!


2 Anonymous November 19, 2009 at 6:04 am

This was hard for your mom,lol. With you kids and the hubby,still is. My brain has many things going on at the same time so it is hard to not say something,lol. As you well know. I loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeee the pink , my favoirte are the last three pictures.


3 Oh Sew Good November 19, 2009 at 9:02 am

I wish I could write "sometimes" here but I have to use the word "often" instead. Often, when I'm listening and I don't quite understand what the other person has said, I try to figure it out rather than interrupt. The next thing I know, I miss out a lot of what they said. Sometimes interruptions are good. 🙂


4 Fruitful Vine2 November 19, 2009 at 9:09 am

The spoon is an interesting concept. I'll have to use that or something similar when my husband and I are dealing with persons in conflict. Thanks.


5 The Redhead Riter November 19, 2009 at 11:10 am

Anonymous is my mom's comment and the "pink" pictures she is referring to are on the other blog at http://rrbrdecorate.blogspot.com/

Mom? They are last because they were my favorites too! We must be related LOL


6 The Redhead Riter November 19, 2009 at 11:13 am

bluecottonmemory :o)

Yes, I do type rather fast! I like it when they are on eastern standard time.

She is referring to me being the first on "rollcall" (commenting)at SITS at http://www.thesitsgirls.com/2009/11/recipes-and-remodels-oh-my/#comments


7 Cara and Jenn November 19, 2009 at 3:11 pm

I can probably use a spoon now and again…is the reason why we blog cause we need spoons? Could be…Cara


8 Teresha@Marlie and Me November 19, 2009 at 3:26 pm

I think of myself as a good listener (and an even better talker, LOL!). sometimes people make it hard to be a good listener–they ramble, go off on tangents, don't get to the point, etc… people should practice economy of words if they want to be heard. I had to learn this skill as a speaker. It made a tremendous difference in my performance! I don't know how I'd look on stage with a spoon…willing to try it though. 🙂


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