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Learning to Listen: A Skill For All

Each year between November until March, I meet for a half hour with every SCS staff member. I see this as a privilege. These conversations happen throughout each week along with regular day-to-day work. I am very mindful that I must ensure that I am taking advantage of the opportunity to connect with staff, and know that listening well is paramount to ensuring the benefit of this precious time.

Earlier this past week I came across a great article in Harvard Business Review entitled What Great Listeners Actually Do written by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman. The article outlines that which is perceived to be good listening, and then goes on to clarify what good listening actually is. The authors articulate their wish for everyone to consider that most of our interactions would benefit from even better listening. Ensuring a safe environment where issues can be discussed openly and where there are minimal distractions is important. The authors also noted that good listening is also engaging in the conversation, asking questions and having a two-way dialogue.

I know that I can always use reminders about being a better listener and I appreciated the authors’ comments about the impact that great listening can have. One statement particularly stuck with me: “We hope that all will see that the highest and best form of listening comes in playing the same role for the other person that a trampoline plays for a child. It gives energy, acceleration, height, and amplification.”

I have been thinking about this imagery in relation to our girls. At SCS, we are focused on developing our girls’ character, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, and citizenship. To be successful in these areas they must also possess strong listening skills. As the adults in their lives, we can only help them to develop these skills if we work to enhance our own skills. For, if we wish to have our girls appreciate the power of listening, then we need to be their trampolines.

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