Dear class, I hope to be able to password protect my posts that summarize what we did in our class, but for now your technology-challenged teacher can’t remember even how to put something under the buttons set up by her clever daughter much less how to password protect posts. So sorry! So I made your names unidentifiable, which does help in learning each others names . . . sigh.
We started our class this week by quizzing each other about our names. Kudos to C——-a and V—— for knowing everyone’s name. We also talked a little about things we had in common:
Those born overseas? L, Y, S–y, C
Who is from Virginia? C——-e, S–i, P
Who is from California? Betsy
We learned that Christine and Yvonne both have their MSW (Masters in Social Work)
We watched session two of the Theophostic Basic Seminar DVDs.
We learned about Listening, which I will try to summarize here for those who missed class. The material in this section is gleaned from Listening for Heaven’s Sake by Equipping Ministries International and my own reading and experience. http://www.equippingministries.org/
Studies show that people feel loved when we listen to them, yet few of us listen well.
To demonstrate this concept we paired up (your partner had to be someone you did not know before you joined the class) and did these exercises:
The person closest to the far wall was the “speaker” and the other person is the “listener.” The speaker talks for one minute about a topic of their choice. Don’t chose something too intense. A good place to start might be to describe your day or your drive to class, but you can choose whatever you like. The Listener is to do all they can to listen well non-verbally. In other words, you can’t say anything. You can make little noises like hmm or unhuh, but no words. The teacher keeps time. (If there are an uneven number of students, the teacher gets to participate, too).
After one minute, switch roles and repeat the exercise.
When both partners have had a chance to be both the speaker and the listening, take some time to process as a group.
Here are some good questions to help the group process:
1. How did it feel to have someone listen to you? Most people will respond that it felt great.
2. What did they do to show they were listening? Smile, lean forward, make eye contact, nod their head, make encouraging noises, have a concern expression on their face and were still and focused while listening.
3. What was it like to be the listener and not be able to speak? Most people will say it was hard.
Using the same partners, repeat exercise one except this time the listener should do all that she can to show that she could care less about what the speaker is saying. The speaker can continue speaking about the same topic as in exercise one or they can choose a new topic.
I find that it is hard to have this one go a full minute (people get quite agitated or start laughing) so I usually call time after about 40 seconds.
Process as a group.
4. How did it feel to have someone not listen to you? Most people will say it felt horrible, and that it was even hard to think or speak clearly when no one was listening.
5. What did they do to show they were listening? Avoid eye contact, look down or away, fidget with their phone, yawn, look at their watch.
6. What was it like to be the listener and ignore the person? Most people say it is hard.
Some comments: In our culture people are most likely to open up and share if you are standing or seated about an arm’s length apart. If you move closer most people will scoot away and if you stand further apart, people tend to clam up.Also facing dead on is less likely to feel comfortable then rotating about 45 degrees out. Does this make sense? To get an idea, face your partner and then rotate your body about 45 degrees to either side. So you are not facing each other directly nor are you standing side-by-side.
It is also good to be aware of your surroundings. Is there a large vase of flowers between you and your friend? Are chairs too far apart for intimacy? Women tend to sit on the sofa with each other and both will instinctively rotate towards each other.
Likewise, research shows that the right amount of eye contact is about one minute, then you need to break off, look away and then resume. Constant eye contact is too intense. You don’t want the person to feel like a bug under a microscope. This varies with culture and with so many cultures in our area, it is good to talk about what is comfortable. Asians have told me that they were told not to make eye contact with adults. African-Americans have told me that when approaching someone from a distance, they make eye contact early on while still far apart, whereas whites often look down until they are about eight feet away and then look up and smile. So friends from different cultures can miss each other and never know why. My friend looks at me from a distance while I am looking down, then when I look up to smile, she is looking down, hurt because I did not acknowledge her earlier. For me it can feel awkward, like I am staring someone down if I look up from a distance, but I am learning and it is becoming more comfortable.
Up next (when I have more time to write), What is our role in relationship?