Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Engaging Struggling Colleagues: Listening

When engaging colleagues who are struggling, you really has to listen deeply. A couple of days ago I suggested that telling your own story of struggles and difficulty was one of the most important things you could do to be of service to colleagues in need. This can help build empathy and trust, and break down defensiveness.

Yet, on the most fundamental, basic level, you need to listen. An old Quaker expression, "Listen with the ear of your heart" is my most cherished guidance on listening. Listen with your whole self. Listen without worrying what you will say next.  As I teach my social work and criminal justice students (I am teaching Helping Skills in Criminal Justice this quarter!), you will never hear anybody say: So and So listens to tell. I hate the way he and she listens to me so intently.

So, listen. Provide a safe place for your struggling colleague to be heard.

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