Listening

Empowerment listening is a useful skill to use when dealing with most challenging situations that arise in schools (see Empowerment Listening) and with many encounters. We approach an interaction with another by acknowledging that we do not know what that person is thinking and feeling. At times, we may think we are listening, but the other person may feel misunderstood. Our understanding is as important as their perception of being understood. While active listening, we are as much seeking to understand as to ensure that the other person feels supported and understood.

Empowerment listening is an interactive process. When listeners check out their assumptions, perceptions and conclusions, they ensure that they have communicated their understanding in a way that the other person can hear and absorb. When thinking about issues related to school safety, we recognize that it is just as important to be safe as it is to feel safe. The same is true for empowerment listening.

In a diverse school setting, misunderstandings leading to conflict may arise in relation to differences based on ethnocultural origin, gender, sexual orientation or other differences based on social identity. Using empowerment listening can help build bridges and dissolve barriers which prevent people from understanding and feeling understood (see Umar).