Monday, October 16, 2006

Good Grief It's Hard For Me To Listen!

CORE THOUGHT: At a recent workshop on crisis intervention, I was reminded of how difficult it is to really, really listen!

One lesson I know I need to learn, but haven't is that I need to talk less and listen more. This weekend I went to disaster relief training and attended a wonderful workshop on crisis intervention. Part of the exercise included a simulated disaster (My group chose a multiple school shooting.) in which I was the pretend facilitator.

One of the "parents" of a victim started out by saying, "I'm going to get my rifle and kill the guy who did this." Sure, I wanted to say in a simulated way of course, "Now, calm down...let's dissect that...blah, blah, blah." One problem...our instructor told us that it was important to give group members real opportunities to ventilate, which meant we were not to comment much, or critique or respond too much for fear of shutting down honest expression. The "instruction" part of the process was to occur later in our simulation...

Those of you who know me know how hard this was to just be quiet, but it was worth it. The group really "got into it," and we even processed some real feelings ('re not supposed to use that word...I meant to say he had some "reactions.") against the exercise saying it was a waste of time.

At any rate, I learned that I must continue to fight that all-too-common tendency we have to be formulating a response to a person's words as he or she is speaking them, instead of focusing on what they are saying, how they are saying it and why they are saying it. It is shocking to some people when you reflect back to them what you heard, but I have seen it work lots and lots of times. Something as simple as, "What I hear you saying is..."

James 1:19 states, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..." Sure, it's hard to learn how to be quick to listen, but it is worth it, and if I can get better at it, anyone can! May you find hidden treasures today as you learn to listen BEFORE you speak!

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