A World Without Racism Listens
Listening and Community
In order to fully understand the needs of others, particularly in your community, it is crucial to listen to what the members of your society are telling you. When leaders of a community genuinely seek out the opinions of those involved and listen to what they have to say, members are more willing to engage with the leading figures through the establishment of trust. Therefore, this creates a better environment for everyone involved. As the author of the article Listening as a Principle for Authentic Community Engagement Chris Perrius states, “When listening is practiced in authentic ways, the listening campaign becomes more authentic, and community voice is not just heard, but empowered to influence or make change.” This powerful message couldn’t be truer. When members are inspired and encouraged to use their voices, especially when they feel validated and heard, this is when real impacts are made and differences are created. Perrius also discusses the concept of constructivist learning defined as “a form of dialogue that explicitly recognizes and honors people’s emotions. It allows people to explore their feelings & thoughts in order to better ‘construct’ their understanding of issues that are important to them.” This idea of dialogue which encourages listening on both ends also assists in the formation of concise thoughts. Therefore, the concept behind constructivist listening helps both the one sharing as well as the one listening through feedback and active listening.
The author provided a few guidelines in order to assist in the implementation of this concept.
Ground Rules for Constructive Listening include:
- Equal talking time per person. This ensures equality among all participants, no matter what position or role they may hold within the community.
- No paraphrasing or thoughts are allowed from the listener. Their role is to simply listen, not interject and provide their perspective. This ensures that all participants are given the ability to problem-solve independently.
- No criticism from the talker. This includes both the listeners and other involved members. To criticize those involved during the exercise would defeat the purpose of the exercise and steer them away from the overall goal.
- What is said between the talkers and listeners stays between the talkers and listeners. In order to create an atmosphere where honesty and trust are prevalent, what is shared must never be discussed outside of the exercise, even between members.
When implemented into community dynamics, this type of listening can foster genuine relationships between public figures as well as the societal members themselves in order to better the lives of everyone involved.