Powerful Listening

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Powerful listening means to show the participants a mirror of how their message appeared to you. Its aim is to make sure, that the receiving person got more or less the information, the sending person wanted to share. But sure, here a moderator can as well use interpretation, then the goal might be to work out some core aspects out of a participant's contribution.

Powerful listening wants to help us gaining a full understanding. Although this does explicitly not mean, that at the end we should agree with this perspective of a participant.


[edit] Paraphrase/Mirror

From time to time you repeat in your words what was said by your participants. Ask if this is right. Give the person a chance to correct your interpretation (but only this person - not the audience).

In conflicting situations you might as well ask the both parties to mirroring what they understood from each other: "Would you like to recapitulate the said?"

This makes them more concentrate on the other person and leave the personal focus. As well it is a good training to catch up the essentials from the quantity of different informations.

[edit] Method: Powerful Listening

Participants try out powerful listening in simluations. They experience the reciprocal action between sender and addressee and reflect the impact of powerful listening during a moderated discussion.

[edit] In short:

  • Small groups
  • 45 minutes

[edit] 1. Introduction

Our scenario is a discussion in a small group from 3 persons. Here two people discuss a controversial topic following the following rules: Staring with your contribution, first repeat the main points of your opponent. Then develop your argumentation based thereupon. The third person is an observer and referee. [15 minutes]

Present the rule on a chart:

New contribution A starts with a statement
Repetition B repeats ("I heard, that..."; "You think, that...").
Confirmation A confirms. If not, B is allowed to try out again.
New contribution B now develops his/her opposite argumentations.
Repetition A repeats.
Confirmation B confirms.
New contribution ...

Now introduce the observer. He or she cares for the rules and acts as a timekeeper. But the main task is to note the argumentative specifics and the body language. After the simulation the observer gives feedback.

[edit] 2. Talks in the small groups

The groups identify conflicting topics like gender balance in boards, bicycles, corruption, or whatever your participants like to discuss... After four minutes there will take place a small exchange and then the next turn will take place (three turns in total).

Es erfolgt nach 6 Minuten ein Wechsel, bis jeder jede Rolle eingenommen hat. [15 Minuten]

[edit] Evaluation

In the whole audience the facilitators ask for a feedback:

  • What was new?
  • How did I feel as A/B/C
  • How to implement powerful listening in my practice?

[edit] Conclusions

  • Repeating helps to clarify things first.
  • The method takes out emotion.
  • It reduces speed, what can be de-escalating.
  • The arguments become shorter and more precise.

[edit] Alternative

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