Perhaps one of the most important things we can learn as we work to provide support to ALL of our students and each other is to better understand the importance and value of really listening.

Sometimes our ability to communicate what we are feeling, what we are thinking and why we are doing what we are doing, or thinking about doing something others struggle to understand is driven by a sense that no one is listening, or that we are alone, and no one understands.  Listening isn’t about thinking about your response, it’s not about providing answers – how many times have we all replied when we weren’t really asked a question? Listening is about really taking in to our mind and our heart what the other person is saying and seeking to understand.  Checking for understanding is not the same as passing judgment or offering advice, there is plenty of time for that after we’ve ensured the speaker that we are listening.

We do not always know when we make a positive, or a negative, impact on the people we interact with though for the most part our intentions, I believe, are good.

Take a few minutes and listen to Kevin Briggs’ TED talk – while the subject focuses on suicide and suicide prevention I suspect you’ll ‘hear’ the value of true listening throughout his message.