Getting Young People To Listen!

Health 18 Apr 2021
Getting Young People To Listen!

I want to introduce you to a couple of concepts around speaking and listening. The reason why I think this is going to be useful and important for you to know about is that different people have different styles when it comes to speaking and listening. The two main differences that I want to draw your attention to today are the differences between literal and inferential. Literal means when someone is going to say it like it is and hear it like it is. Inferential is when there is an element of something implied in what you are maybe hearing or what you are saying and some people have the ability to read the difference between those two and some people don’t!

For example, if you are an inferential listener then what that means is that you can get influenced to take action on what someone has said even if they weren’t outwardly asking you to do something. This is important because as someone who is communicating with young people there may be times when instead of giving them direct instructions you just give them a hint in what you are saying, for example, your rooms looking pretty messy these days, isn’t it? That implies that you want them to clean their room, however, if the person that you’re speaking to is not an inferential listener they need to hear the message literally in order to be able to process it and feel the desire to take some action on it.

If the person that you’re speaking to is a literal listener they won’t hear the message around you wanting them to tidy their bedroom. They’re going to hear what you said literally and there is no direct instruction in there or action. They’re just going to hear that you’re unhappy about the state of their bedroom but they won’t necessarily feel compelled to do anything about it. If the person that you’re speaking to is an inferential listener by saying “Wow, your bedroom’s looking messy these days.” They will hear the inference of needing to do something about it and they’re going to feel much more compelled to take some action and hopefully get on and tidy their bedroom.

Depending on what sort of listener you are speaking to you may need to adapt your own communication style in order to get them motivated to take the action. If they are someone who takes things more literally you need to make sure that your message is a literal message. You would need to say “I want you to tidy your bedroom this Friday by three o’clock” that’s going to be a literal message, there is no ambiguity in there. They’re going to be able to hear the instruction and do something about it whereas if they are someone who is more inferential you’ll be able to get away with just giving more of a casual instruction or just making a passing comment and they’ll feel compelled to take action around it anyway. Therapy for children with nlp4kids is a useful way to identify their preferences.

This can be particularly challenging in households where you have two or more young people who have very different styles and you’re trying to communicate to them simultaneously. One of them is going to feel compelled to do something even if the message is a bit vaguer whereas the other is going to need very specific direct instruction at times. Being an inferential listener can be problematic too because our inferential listeners may feel the need to do something in reaction to what’s been said even if you weren’t giving them direct instruction to do anything about it or trying to imply that they needed to take some form of action. If you were just making an observation, for example, such as “that skirt doesn’t fit you so well anymore” it could leave them with an underlying feeling of needing to do something about changing their outfit, feeling as if they aren’t good enough or all manner of other different ways in which that comment could be taken some of which could be incredibly negative.

Someone who is more inferential is going to feel the need to be compelled to do something with that statement like they’re supposed to change in some way. Someone who’s more literal might take the observation onboard and perhaps agree or disagree with you but not necessarily feel compelled to do anything about it. These listening styles may be the same as or different to their communication styles so the style by which they speak can also be literal or inferential. CAMHS cannot help with this!

Someone who is a more literal speaker is going to be more comfortable just coming out and saying it like it is whereas someone who’s more inferential is more likely to hint imply and give clues about what it is that they think can feel again. Neither of these is more beneficial than the other it simply depends on what the context is that we’re dealing with. If you have a young person who is struggling in some ways at those times it can be really helpful to have a literal speaker because they’re more likely to just explain very clearly to you what it is that’s going on for them internally. Someone who is more inferential may feel more sensitive about explaining what’s going on for them internally for fears of what it might cause you to do, think, how it may affect your emotional state or how you may react. So they’re more likely to give a kind of roundabout idea of what’s going on rather than just coming out and saying it directly.

However, with our literal speakers, there are times when that can be challenging. For example, they may appear to be less tactful at times because even if they’re asked for their honest opinion. They may choose to then deliver that without the delicacy that may be required in that particular scenario and that’s not just because they’re a literal communicator, it’s also got something to do with their age and their maturity levels, being less able to read other people’s personas and the situation and what it is that’s required to be open and honest but without being disrespectful – or maybe just outright putting their foot in it! Therapy for teenagers with NLP4Kids can help here.

The main thing you need to know is who your young people are and are that people that speak and communicate literally or with inference and likewise with their listening styles are going to be more literal or more inferential. How you have adapted your communication for literal and inferential listeners?