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We often think of listening as a passive activity, being eager to speak and share what we think.
So can there be any power in listening?
This week I had a really thought provoking session with a group of school leaders. They needed to make a decision. This decision would impact on the children in their care and the level of progress they make.
They wanted help in making the decision. They wanted answers.
I asked them to explain the situation.
They went in to a lengthy explanation, including the positives and challenges. I listened. They explained why they felt so strongly about the situation. I listened. They talked and discussed and clarified for about 20 minutes.
And then simply the questions – What will be the best for the children? What is most appropriate? – were asked.
They knew the answer straight away without any hesitation. The leaders gathered were experienced educators. They knew what would be best for the children and were able to make a decision.
I could have given my opinion but in this situation the leaders needed to make a decision for themselves, a decision which they owned.
There is power in listening. Listening alongside relevant questions allows people to make their own decisions.
Decisions based on what they think and believe.