Posted by: bwoof | June 10, 2015

The Power of Paraphrase and Inactive Activity

I am learning about the importance of active listening, a stance that is often best represented by a simple paraphrase of what someone has said. Easier said than done.

Today I tried paraphrasing with success, and then promptly forgot to listen in another situation.

Two students were were trying to explain their misperceptions about a classmate and their emerging plan to confront, challenge, perhaps even attack their alleged foe.

As tempting as it was to interject with my vast ‘wisdom’ I purposed to listen, restate what they had told me, and then pause…pause…pause. And that’s when the ‘aha’ moments came for the students. They heard what they had said, recognized some flawed thinking, and then began wondering about some alternate possibilities.  My active inactivity was my only contribution to their learning.

listentoreplyLater, while talking with an adult member of the community, I sensed that there was a paucity of facts about a certain situation. In the midst of misperceptions, the person had logically arrived at conclusions that confronted, challenged and even attacked an alleged foe.

I quickly interjected with all my wisdom about what was really going on since I, of course, perceived that I had access to many more facts which, if only could be appreciated would naturally persuade the other person to have a quick and happy change of mind.

Not so.

In a flash, but sadly too late, I saw how my interruption of thinking actually stopped the thinking.  Logic, and I had it in buckets, was no match for emotion, and the person simply could not and would not be moved by persuasion. Had I stopped and listened, had I affirmed the value of the person`s ideas, and had I respectfully reflected the person`s ideas, the outcome would have been different.

Unlike the students in the first story who cross-examined their own data set, the adult in the second story left with a fixed mindset, sadly based on misinformation — and I, in part, have to own it.

scottparkGrateful for:

Curious about:

  • the ethics of choosing some students over other students for a video presentation that will represent a very diverse group of  individuals
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