Being listened to helps human beings in profound ways. When we absorb someone else’s relaxed attention, we can process and regulate our emotions, think our way through challenges, and engage in areas where we are inclined to disengage. "Equal listening exchanges" are a tool and a process that will support students to take risks as learners, build community, and nurture everyone's ability to handle challenging emotions when they arise.
Active listening is a skill that takes practice. Specific protocols will help students learn to use it well. Sustained practice in various settings will teach students how to move forward when they are confronted with academic, social, and emotional challenges.
- Listening Exchange: Good and Poor Listening
- Listening Exchange: The Value of Equal Turns & Confidentiality
Lesson 3: Making Space for Emotions
If listening exchanges are happening regularly, and with fidelity, there will be enough space for students to begin to really share their emotions.
We've all had to face challenges in our lives. We've all felt a range of emotions, so they will come up.
If someone begins to get upset about something during an exchange, we want to continue to listen, and give them that space. Try to steer students toward expressing how they feel about something, not about the details of the situation. This is worth breaking down with students regularly. Everyone gets caught up in the gossip of “he said, she said,” etc. But underlying these details are pent-up emotions triggered by the events. When we create space for the feelings, not the details, and connect to other times the speaker has felt this way, then healing begins and the tension in the present situation is diffused.