People listen to people who listen

Submitted by mfitch on February 13, 2009 - 04:58. ::

If paying attention to what kids talk about is the passive side of listening, what's the active side?
Here's the script of a digital movie:
You wanna know how I'm doing?
Don't ask.
Don't ask if you're not ready to listen.
Don't say, "How you doin'?"
I'll just say, "Fine."
It's the answer I'm trained to give
--[should be em dash]whether it's true or not.
A shallow answer
to a shallow question.
Most people don't really wanna know;
they assume I know they're just being polite.
I don't think that's polite at all.
Short questions get short answers.
You wanna know how I'm doing?
Ask what I've been up to;
what I'm working on;
what's up with my family.
If you're asking me (and I sensed you were),
most of the best question don't have question marks:
"Tell me about your sister."
"I'd like to hear about your job."
"Tell me how you felt."
"Tell me what you mean."
"I'd like to know more about that."
You wanna know how I feel when
you ask questions that way?
I feel included.
I feel cared for.
I feel like I belong.
if you already know the answer,
it's not really a question, is it...
--[should be em dash]it's a test.
Please don't do that to me.
(I hate tests.)
Don't make me look foolish.
Don't trick me.
Don't use me to
make a point.
If you're serious,
ask what I think,
ask how I feel,
ask an honest question,
and wait for my honest answer.
Learn from silence.
If I don't answer right away
--if the silence goes on too long--
ask what that means.
Maybe I'm embarrassed.
Maybe I didn't understand the question.
(Maybe you weren't clear.)
Maybe I'm thinking (and wouldn't that be nice).
You wanna know how I'm doing?
Sometimes I'm sad
because life is confusing
and painful,
and we both know
there's nothing you can do to fix that.
It's okay. I'll be fine...truly.
That doesn't mean I don't want you to check.
Give me a chance to tell you when I'm fine,
and maybe I'll tell you when I'm not.
Don't take my first response
at face value.
Listen with your eyes:
Do I look like I'm doing all right?
Listen with your heart: Do you believe my answer?
With the very best motives
--sometimes with the worst--
I'm capable of every kind of deceit.
Just like you.
Don't ask me to do what you won't.
If you wanna know my story,
tell me yours.
Let me know I'm safe--
let me know you're not perfect either.
When I believe that,
I'll talk your ear off.
Jim Hancock invested two decades as a church-based youth worker. Now he spends his days in Leucadia, California, writing and creating digital movies and learning designs like "Raising Adults," "The Justice Mission," and the "Good Sex" curriculum for youth workers, parents, and adolescents.
Jim couldn't help noticing that families, schools and churches spent 18+ years raising children-or at least people who left their homes, schools and youth groups still feeling more like children than adults. And like a lot of parents, teachers, and youth workers, he couldn't help feeling a little bit angry and afraid about this. It's not what any of us thought we were doing. Which unearthed the question: What if we could retrace our steps and get back on the path to raising adults (not adult-aged kids) together? Raising Adults is not about blame; it's about Do-Overs-starting right where we are (not where we're supposed to be) and working together to prepare kids for life in the world as it is (not as we wish it were).

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