The success of a professional learning community is heavily influenced by how effectively the participants communicate with each other. Clearly, this is obvious, but what’s not obvious is that it’s not only how we speak to each other, it’s how we listen to each other. Listening is the most used and the most important communication skill; however, listening is the least acknowledged and the least practiced communication skill.
To ensure a successful framework for your school’s or organization’s Professional Learning Community, you may wish to invite the participants to think about the impact of how colleagues listen to each other. Here’s a lighthearted look at listening at its best and its worst. As you watch, think about what’s working, what’s not working, and why.
So, are you a listener or a “waiting to talker”?
You and your colleagues may also want to check out Dick Lee and Delmar Hatesohl’s “Listening: Our Most Used Communication Skill”. It’s a very interesting look at the best and the worst of listening. Here are some quotes from the article:
“. . . the difference between speaking speed and thought speed means that when we listen to the average speaker, we’re using only 25 percent of our mental capacity. We still have 75 percent to do something else with. So, our minds will wander.”
“Ralph G. Nichols, long-time professor of rhetoric at the University of Minnesota (now retired), says in his book Are You Listening? that “if we define the good listener as one giving full attention to the speaker, first-grade children are the best listeners of all.””
We also recommend the article The Art Of Listening Well by Eugene Raudsepp who begins with the comment, “Forget about what you were going to say next. Make sure you hear what the other person says.”
After reading and discussing these articles, work with your colleagues to create a personalized list of what they value in listening. This serves as an ongoing self-assessment of listening and a way to monitor how and why some conversations are effective and why some go awry.