Yesterday, we had the chance to attend two interactive workshops at the International Preschool Education Conference, (IPEC) sponsored by Etonkids Educational Group. One workshop was led by James Wright on the subject of attentive listening and how to use coaching techniques to encourage children’s creativity.
Wright is a lecturer of conferences around the world and shares insights based on technique training. He emphasizes ideals of “mutually respective communication” among parents, teachers, and children at schools and educational organizations. In particular, Wright focuses on children, paying special attention to their needs, and uses technique training to help unleash a child’s potential. He outlines the 5 levels of listening as follows:
5 Active Listening
4 Attentive Listening
To demonstrate the varying levels of listening, one workshop attendee agrees to share a dilemma with Wright. The audience then rates his listening on a scale of 1-10; ten being "superb listening" and one being "not good listening at all." As the volunteer proceeds to tell him her problem, Wright offers examples of all five levels of listening. He begins by interrupting, “hijacking,” or making the conversation about himself, and offering advice. He then demonstrates the difference with the two higher levels of listening; attentive and active listening.
“As a coach, I’m listening because I believe you have the answer somewhere in your brain, he says. "Try to keep a filter of thinking your child is fabulous person capable of extraordinary thinking. When someone asks me questions and wants advice, I will ask questions and maybe through those questions, help you find your answer.”
With partners, we try the activity with our own dilemmas and switch roles. Wright advocates using these questions and techniques to achieve attentive and active listening.
Tell me more?
What do you think about that?
What are your thoughts?
Permission to speak
After the exercise, the audience offer their feedback on the experience trying active listening. Many felt that it was difficult not to offer their partner advice or an opinion. Some were nervous in the moments of silence and found themselves wanting to fill it.
Wright asks participants to commit to evening homework. The task is to go home and listen to your child speak for three minutes without interrupting.
“What we’re doing is looking at attention for small children. Give them your attention, even if you think they’re wrong, if you know what they’re going to say – listen and give them your attention. When they stop talking, ask them ‘what more do you think?’ It’s amazing how much people can say when they think they don’t have to be polite. Just give them a one-way conversation.”
To learn more about how to listen more effectively as parents visit James Wright’s website here.
Photo: Victoria Yang