The year 2020 has begun, and I’ve chosen pause as my OLW (One Little Word) for the year. Part of working on pausing for me is going to be working on listening. I am a person who leans in to what people are saying, and I’m a person who wants to listen well, but I’m a person who often jumps in before people are really finished talking. It’s a very, very bad habit. I’m going to try to break this habit in 2020. I’m going to try to push pause when I feel myself starting to jump in (and often over) what people are saying.
I’ve been reading up on listening. Not surprisingly, I found some tips in a book on student talk. If we want people to talk well, it certainly makes sense that we have to listen well! The book I’m studying is Unlocking the Power of Classroom Talk, written by Katy Wischow and Shana Frazin (I’m lucky to have Shana as our school’s TC Staff Developer this year!). In this text, the authors write about strategies to help students use talk to clarify. One of the strategies is to teach kids to say, “Say more about that.” In explaining how and why this strategy works, Katy and Shana discuss a research study that was done to improve doctor/patient relationships. Some of the surveys in this study showed that patients are often dissatisfied with doctors’ ability to listen. The suggestion (referred to as a “surefire method”) from Dr. Howard Beckman, medical director of the Rochester Independent Practice Association, was to use what he called continuers. Beckman encouraged doctors to say “uh huh” three times while listening to a patient. In an example given in the text, a doctor tried this, and each time he said “uh huh” the patient gave more (and very important) information about his symptoms.
I plan to push pause and use a few continuers with students and adults. I’ll see if this helps me to listen more and talk less. I’ll try saying “uh huh” or “hmmmm” or “Tell me more” three times and see if people say more. I think it’s more realistic for me than trying to stay completely silent while people talk. I think it will feel more authentic and show that I am listening and that I am interested, but I’m hoping it will keep me from jumping in too quickly.
Here’s to pushing pause in an effort to be a better listener in 2020. Wish me luck!