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Effective listening is a crucial skill that goes beyond simply hearing words;



At SBC we received a heartfelt, brilliant note from community member and MBC Leadership team participant Kathleen Friel, regarding how to properly listen to and respond when speaking with someone with a speech impairment. (See her email below).

 

Kathleen’s memo got me to thinking about how I can personally improve and develop effective listening habits, and after some quick research I came up with the following:

 

Effective listening is a crucial skill that goes beyond simply hearing words; it involves fully comprehending and interpreting the message being conveyed. One key aspect of effective listening is providing the speaker with your undivided attention. This means putting aside distractions, such as phones or other electronic devices, and maintaining eye contact to signal that you are fully engaged. Furthermore, active listening involves non-verbal cues, like nodding or mirroring the speaker's body language, to convey understanding and encouragement.


In addition to non-verbal cues, paraphrasing and summarizing the speaker's message demonstrates that you are not only hearing but also processing the information.

 

This reflective aspect of listening ensures that both parties are on the same page, fostering clarity and preventing misunderstandings. It's essential to refrain from interrupting and allow the speaker to express themselves fully before responding. This patience and respect contribute to a more open and communicative environment, where individuals feel heard and valued.

 

Ultimately, effective listening is a skill that strengthens relationships, promotes understanding, and facilitates successful communication.

 

…the message from Kathleen


 

Hi Friends,


I am writing to share a tip sheet that may help you feel better prepared to interact with people who have a speech impairment. Some people, like me, have a lifelong speech impairment. Others may be experiencing extreme fatigue, dry mouth, or mouth sores. I’d love to make SBC groups more inclusive of people with speech impairments. This TNT training is a great start!

 

In essence, it’s simple: we all want to be heard. Think of your own experiences in SBC groups – don’t you love it when we all have time and space to be heard!


Everyone should be able to speak. Interruptions and repeating are generally seen as demeaning. I answered a question on Sunday saying if you want to repeat what someone said, ask. I want to step back a tad. Perhaps first, ask if they want to use the chat to share. During such chat-writing time, it would be ideal for the group to quietly wait. (Like, 2 min or less, not forever! Most people will type small bits of info, hit enter, then type more, which is more like the beat of a conversation.)

 

Common things I’ve encountered

•           Assumption that I’m mentally impaired. Someone’s speech does not correlate with intellect.

 

•           People finishing my sentences or interrupting, often with something wildly different from what I was trying to say. Give people the chance to speak for themselves.

 

•           People not recognizing that those with disabilities have lives just as complex as everyone else. People often seem shocked when I talk about dating, work, the fact that I live alone and drive… most people don’t have to hear, ”Oh WOW you’re so inspiring,” when they drive to the store.

 

•           Folks unaware how carefully I plan when I’m going to talk, and unaware of the unease I feel when the plans don’t go smoothly. It’s not that different from the planning that other people with disabilities do. Imagine arranging ahead to have a ramp at the restaurant you’re meeting friends at. You may feel proud of your master plan. Then of course, no ramp at the restaurant. The planning and organizing that people with speech impairments do are not as visible, but just as important. Examples: resting before gathering, typing out things in a Word doc that I think I might want to put in the chat.  If you call on someone with a speech impairment and we need a second to take a drink or sit up straight, be patient. We’ve got a LOT going on behind the scenes! 😊

 

•           I know this shouldn’t need to be said, but no teasing! I grew up being teased, as most people with disabilities do. I’m over it. Teasing is painful, not funny, and not cool.

 

I hope this all helps!!

Kathleen

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