Are You Listening?

Develop the skill of active listening

One of the many human weaknesses is the ability to listen to one another. Think about the times when you were aware that the person to whom you were speaking had one ear tuned to the conversation on his or her left. "No, her name was Susan!" they might have contributed to the near-by conversation. Or perhaps you were discussing something important and your listener glanced down at her watch, or shuffled papers, or walked around the room! What kind of message is she sending? The ability to actively listen and care for one another is rare. In a small group setting, the inability to listen to one another inhibits the development of a trusting environment. Who is inclined to share personal concerns and difficulties knowing that the listening ear is unavailable?

"Careful, active, sensitive, evocative listening is the foundation skill needed. This kind of listening tunes into the other person at the deepest possible level, listening not just to words and ideas, but to nuances, shades of expressions, to feelings as well as non-verbal cues." (Roberta Hestenes). Active listening requires full attention to the speaker as it demonstrates acceptance and is a basic way of showing love.Eye contact is essential because it sends a strong message of being present with the person and an interest in hearing the words, ideas, or concerns the speaker may have. There are times, however, when the listening person's eyes may be on the speaker and their minds somewhere else! So how does one learn to listen well?

Active listening can be developed using the covenant the group has designed. If part of your group's purpose is to build trust, share deeply, refrain from giving advice, and encourage one another, the need to listen becomes a tool that allows ...

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