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Listening: The heart of interpersonal communication at home and at work

Module by: Dennis Rivers. E-mail the author

Summary: CHALLENGE ONE is to listen first and acknowledge what you hear, even if you don’t agree with it, before expressing your experience or point of view. In order to get more of your conversation partner’s attention in tense situations, pay attention first: listen and give a brief restatement of what you have heard (especially feelings) before you express your own needs or position. Acknowledging another person’s thoughts and feelings does not have to mean that you approve of or agree with that person’s actions or way of experiencing, or that you will do whatever someone asks. Additional readings shown.

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LISTENING MORE RESPONSIVELY: This chapter of the Seven Challenges Workbook, by Dennis Rivers, locates listening as part of a person's lifelong journey toward more awareness and compassion, and offers practical suggestions for becoming a better listener. Click the following link for PDF version of the chapter.

POSITIVE DEVIANT is a magazine article about the transformative power of deep listening, as it occurred in a program to reduce child malnutrition in Vietnam. It is one of the clearest examples I have ever read of what is now called "appreciative inquiry," which advocates that helpers pay disciplined and systematic attention to the strengths, capacities and past successes of those people they wish to help. Link to Web page:

COMPASSIONATE LISTENING: AN EXPLORATORY SOURCEBOOK by Gene Knudsen Hoffman, Leah Green and Cynthia Monroe. Click the following link for a PDF copy of this 25-page report documenting the approach and activities of three central participants in the compassionate listening movement, with examples of compassionate listening as a radical intervention in different conflict situations.

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