They just want someone to L – I – S – T – E – N …


A woman and man conversingHaving done this work for many years our most important tool, used daily, is listening.  Every situation with the kids we serve, or the adults we work with, requires the use of this tool.  We don’t listen to respond, but we really listen because that is what the children need most.


They just want someone to L – I – S – T – E – N …


L – “Leave judgement out of it.”

We will not make any progress in communication if we enter with judgment.  If we can suspend our judgement, we will find that we can hear more clearly.


I – “I should listen twice as much as I speak.”

One mouth, TWO ears, enough said.


S – “Share advice only if asked to.”

Most people can solve their own problems; they just need someone to listen as they sort out their own solutions.  If someone says, “What do you think?”, then feel free to offer advice.


T – “Time, be willing to give it freely.”

Time is a precious commodity.  It is invaluable to the one who is sharing.  They can tell if you are not invested in the conversation.


E – “Eye contact is important.”

Eye contact differs among cultures.  We have to become comfortable with making eye contact with those we listen to, AND be comfortable with whatever level of eye contact they share.


N – “Need attention”

I’ve heard it more than once, “That person is just attention seeking.”  That is true of everyone we listen to.  If they need attention, give them your full, undivided attention.  Let’s stop trying to multi-task, it doesn’t go well with trying to listen.


Our children have a lot to share with us just as many children do. They may not communicate for many months as they sort through their feelings, but when they are ready to talk we are there to L-I-S-T-E-N.


Rev. John Cobb is the Continuous Quality Improvement Risk Manager and Sanctuary Coordinator for Boys and Girls Homes of NC.


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