Jul 19, 2008

A Book for Lambeth

All the bishops at the Lambeth conference have been given a book to read "The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality". There are some really interesting instructions in the book on how to engage with other people. It strikes me that if bishops need these instructions what hope is there for the rest of us plebs.So are you now sitting comfortably we will begin....

To listen as actively as I can:

• I do not participate in side conversations.

• I never interrupt the person who is speaking.

• I turn off all electronic equipment (cell phones, computers, pagers, BlackBerries, etc.) and put them away.

• I show my interest in the speaker through my posture and facial expressions.

• I keep my expression and posture interested, engaged and calm, even
when I very strongly agree – or disagree – with the speaker.

• When it is my turn to speak, I first demonstrate how I have listened
to others by paraphrasing what they have said. I do this using my own
words and ask 'Have I understood you correctly?' when I have finished
my paraphrase.

• I avoid making statements that suggest or assert that I completely understand what another is saying.

• If anyone in the group behaves in ways that block or impede
listening, I support the group facilitator as they ask for these
behaviours to stop.

This means that as an active or deep listener in a dialogue we will be
receptive, encouraging, and reflective. We will strive for
understanding of others in the group and take responsibility for our
own behaviours and thoughts during the dialogue. Let us look at these
behaviours in more detail.

To be a receptive listener:

• I adopt a comfortable and open posture and facial expression.

• I avoid crossing my arms.

• I avoid judgemental or confrontational body language – pointing fingers, shaking fingers, pursing lips or scowling.

• If culturally appropriate I look at the speaker and make eye contact if the speaker looks at me.

• I avoid closing my eyes and I do not fall asleep.

As an encouraging listener I will help draw the speaker
out. This is a particularly helpful and pastoral approach with those
who are shy, reticent, or unaccustomed to being given the opportunity
to speak in this type of process. To be an encouraging listener:

• I sit forward, leaning slightly towards the speaker.

• I keep an open facial expression, occasionally smile or nod my head.
This way I can affirm that a person is contributing without necessarily
affirming what the person is saying.

• I ask for more information. I can ask a speaker if they could say more about what they are thinking to help me understand.

• I thank the previous speaker before I begin to speak.

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