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  • Writer's pictureKevin Phillips

Listen First. Listen Again.


Listening is probably the most important skill a person can learn.


It makes the difference between a health relationship and a relationship characterized by avoidance and abuse. It is the difference between a happy family and family mired in dysfunction. Children and youth who learn to listen well, have the best chance for living a long and happy life. Parents who are able to listen to their children, also learn how to love.


Listening is also a critical competency in organizations. Listening is crucial for team building as it fosters open communication, enhances understanding among team members, and promotes a collaborative environment. It shows respect, validates perspectives, and helps address concerns effectively, contributing to a stronger and more cohesive team.


Learning to listening well is one the first and most important of recovery skills. A person in recovery must learn to listen to their own bodies. They most learn to listen to their hope for a better life. They must learn to listen to all the people around them who want to help them heal.


It goes without saying that at Archway we invest a great deal of time training our team how to listen.


By attentively hearing different perspectives, the ARS team builds upon each other's thoughts, leading to greater insight, innovative solutions and fresh ideas. This collaborative process sparks creativity and helps the team explore uncharted territories, contributing to the development of novel and effective strategies.


We do well to master three styles, modes, or types of listening:


  1. Active Listening: This focuses attention on the speaker. It provides feedback that demonstrates understanding through verbal and non-verbal cues. Through active listening, the other person experiences an implicit invitation to share more, self-disclose more, and risk sharing creative new ideas.

  2. Empathetic Listening: This gives attention to the emotional component of an encounter. It attends to the feelings of the other person. When we are open to remaining responsive to and sharing the feelings of the speaker, we foster a deeper connection and builds bonds of trust.

  3. Reflective Listening: This happens when we restate (paraphrase or summarize) the speaker's message. This signals that we take the other person seriously. It confirm understanding, or conversely, invites the other person to clarity what they mean.


When we listen to one another, actively, empathetically and reflectively, a kind of collective intelligence emerges. I am able to take what I know, and multiply it, as I listen carefully to what you know. My perspective is limited. But when I listen to people around me, my scope of vision broadens to includes the insights and perspective of everyone around me.

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