As We Look Forward, We're Paying Thanks and A Visit to Our 'Sessions Past'

A little more than two years ago, we began meeting and gathering local input for what would become C4C and the Sisters Country Civility Project. Since then we have enjoyed wonderful participation—from our local adopters, sponsors and volunteers, to our lively audiences and the engaging speakers who have offered valuable insights at our free quarterly sessions.

During this holiday season, we want to pause and express our sincere appreciation to all of you.

We’ve covered a lot of territory in our quarterly sessions (e.g., listening more effectively, becoming more constructive in our criticism, and techniques for collaborating, showing respect and finding common ground). And we just enjoyed our latest session, “The Paradox of Connection,” featuring award-winning speaker and coach Moe Carrick. Among other topics, Moe touched on the importance of being present and listening wholeheartedly as a key to connecting.

As we look forward to 2018 and future sessions, we thought it also seemed like a good time to reminisce a little—to pull out our notes from one of our first quarterly sessions, held in April 2016 and led by Anne George. One of the region’s top mediators and facilitators, Anne shared with us effective strategies for better listening, creating stronger connections and building understanding (particularly amid disagreement).

When it comes to dealing with tough issues, Anne notes, “So often we want to slice up the pie and take what is ours.” (But) “what if the pie could be made bigger and solutions found that work for everyone?”

Anne suggested the following listening techniques to bring more meaning to our conversations (and to make the pie bigger):

1. Listen to understand.
2. Consciously will yourself to stop thinking about what you are going to say next. You’ll find it can actually be freeing to do this.
3. Ask a lot of questions.
4. Focus on what the speaker is feeling or what they have experienced.
5. Build personal curiosity and exhibit genuine interest; and
6. Let other speakers know you heard them. Repeat or paraphrase comments or points made by the speaker.

Likewise, Anne noted the following fundamentals of “active listening” foster more effective discussions—conversations that build trust and community.

A. Encouraging language (e.g., “I’d like to hear your perspective on this.” or “How did you feel when that happened?”)
B. Clarifying language (e.g., “Help me understand what you mean by that.” or “What did you mean when you said…?”
C. Restating content (e.g., “What I hear you say is…” or “I’d like to see if I understand you so far…”)
D. Reflecting feelings (e.g., “It sounds like this was very upsetting to you.” or “You say you’re okay, but by your tone of voice you seem upset.” or “I imagine this was a challenging situation for you.”)

We’re grateful to have had wonderful speakers like Anne share their expertise with us during the past two years. We look forward to continuing that tradition; and we hope to see you at our next session.

—The C4C Team