by Sharon Ely Pearson
A key to the health and success of any group – large or small – is that all participants understand the importance of being open and willing to listen to others, even if their viewpoint is different than your own. A good practice before the beginning of any group committed to meet and study together are to form some group norms – practices in which all hold one accountable for.
Grounded in God: Listening Hearts Discernment for Group Deliberations by Suzanne G. Farnham, Stephanie A. Hull, and R. Taylor McLean (1996, Morehouse Publishing), offer these:
Guidelines for Listening
- Take time to become settled in God’s presence.
- Listen to others with your entire self (senses, feelings, intuition, and rational faculties).
- Speak for yourself only, expressing your own thoughts and feelings, referring to your own experience. Avoid being hypothetical.
- Do not challenge what others say.
- Do not interrupt.
- Do not formulate what you want to say while someone else is speaking.
- Pause between speakers to absorb what has been said.
- Listen to the group as a whole, to those who have not spoken verbally as well as to those who have; generally, if you have already spoken, leave space for anyone who may want to speak a first time before speaking a second time.