During one of the group sessions that Doc and I run, some problems arose with getting group members to listen. Sometimes people were talking over each other, at other times there were interruptions from people carrying on side conversations when they should have been listening. It was akin to watching the people on some of the 24 hour cable news networks going back and forth.
As most problems in life have a solution, Doc and I put our heads together to try to figure out what that solution might be. What we came up with worked out better than even Doc and I imagined.
At the next group session, we paired people off into two’s. They then picked slips out of a bag that had the following questions on them, 1.If you could be anyone besides yourself, who would you be and why? 2. If your house caught on fire and you could take 3 things with you what would you take? 3. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go? 4. If you could have a dream job, what would it be? They were then instructed to have one person answer the question while the other sat quietly and listened. At the end of one minute they stopped and the person that listened had to repeat back to their partner what they had said. Then they switched places and did the exercise all over again so that each person had a turn.
When they were done with the exercise, Doc asked the group what they had learned. Now you would have thought that they would have talked about the answers to the questions, but that’s not what happened at all. The group members said that they found out that it’s hard to really listen to someone without interrupting or trying to finish the sentence for the other person. They also found it hard to listen rather than thinking about their own responses. Doc and I were blown away. They really got it!
For the last question Doc asked the group “How many of you felt like you had not been listened to when you were growing up?” It broke my heart when every group member raised their hand.
It just goes to show you how important it is to feel listened to in life. Not only does it show others that you care, but it also conveys that their opinions are valued. Nothing is more powerful than that.