Listening Skills for a Volatile Age

The Wall Street Journal, March 15th published a piece by Clare Ansberry  about retreat centers during this current age of high anxiety.  Attendance at various centers, including the Garrison Institute in NY State is up by 20% since the November election.  The goal of these retreat experiences, in general is to help people establish ” a sense of empathy and understanding even if people hold a radically different position.” Tips include how to be a better listener:

  • Focus on the person, not their opinions.
  • Be attentive. Don’t look around, check your phone or sigh.
  • Suspend your own judgment and analysis until the other person is finished.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Don’t form rebuttals in your head while the other person is talking.
  • Summarize objectively what the other person said.

Reading this article we notice that the overlap with mediation is significant.  We work with clients who are often consumed with fear, anxiety and enormous financial and emotional stresses.  Only by listening carefully to what they say and how they express their needs are we able to provide effective mediation to help them craft lasting agreements that provide a durable path forward in their lives.



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