Wellness Matters 09.07.2021
Spaces for Listening
I had coffee with a friend this morning, a retired support for learning teacher, and we discussed the needs of one of our mutual friends who sadly has macular degeneration. Although our friend is able to get around with support, she misses being able to pick up a book and read. Audio books have been suggested but, for her, enjoyment comes from a certain tone of voice, and the pace at which the book is read. I am visiting our friend next week and will offer to read to her if she likes my reading manner!
I started reading to my stepson during Lockdown 1 initially via WhatsApp video, and later by phone, because we don’t live together. I know he fidgets and fiddles but his retention is excellent. We’ve read 4 ½ Harry Potter books since March 2020 and he is able to recall, in detail, many of the characters and events with clarity and confidence. What’s more, I used this first hand experience to advise his teachers that although he might fidget and move in class, he is (mostly) actively listening. I did catch him out a couple of times, however, when I could sense that he was distracted, and so I paused until he realised I had stopped reading. He knows I know when he isn’t giving his full attention - even from 4 miles away, it’s that teacher’s intuition!
Listening is a skill. Most of us can hear without too much trouble and those who can’t are taught early on to lip read or sign. The skills required to communicate with the deaf or hard of hearing, involves significant training and development, and yet we expect children in a class of 25 or more to actively listen without much training at all. There are myriad distractions around these days from TV, radio, video and computer games, music, phones and tablets. I believe it is having an impact on young people’s attention span and therefore their ability to actively listen.
During webinars, the host might use Breakout rooms to create an opportunity for discussion. The most effective format is called a Listening Space, where each participant will talk and others listen. This arrangement works well because everyone will be heard, and internal interference which comes when waiting for a chance to talk, is removed resulting in a better quality of talking and listening.
Practice actively listening to your friends and family this week: not just hearing, but really listening. Try not to fixate on your turn to speak, if there is a pause, but ask them if there is anything else they want to share. Solutions can be found in that listening space by the person talking, because the answer often lies within them.
Coaching can do that for you. Coaching is a process designed to enable and empower you to find solutions, to make the change you desire to see.
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