top of page
  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

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!!



Recent Posts

See All

The Now


Meditation Mondays:

Chakra Chanting with Gloria

Mondays at 10:00 a.m. ET 


Thursday Night Thrivers:

All Stages Support Group

Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. ET



Thursday Night Thrivers:

Metastatic Breast Cancer Support Group

First and third Thursdays

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET



Thursday Night Thrivers:

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Support Group

Second Thursday

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET


Tuesday Night Thrivers

Después de un Diagnóstico:

Grupo de Apoyo en Español

2do y Cuarto Martes de cada mes 

7:00 p.m. ET


Encourage and Empower

For Newly Diagnosed

September 10, 11:00 a.m. ET


Breast Cancer Book Club

The first Sunday of the month


Restorative Yoga:

The secret Garden

April 22,  6:00 p.m. ET


Qi Gong

April 23,  11:30 a.m. ET


Art Therapy

May 6, 6:00 p.m. ET


Forest Bathing

May 7,  6:00 p.m. ET


Reflect & Recharge

Expressive Writing

May 13,  6:00 p.m. ET


Yoga Fitness with Chair Assist

May 14, 11:30 a.m. ET


Yoga Stretching for DIEP flap

May 14,  6:00 p.m. ET


Más eventos en español


Upcoming Events


Surviving Breast Cancer provides breast cancer support, events, and webinars at no cost to you! Whether you are looking to gain more knowledge on a particular topic or meet up with other breast cancer survivors, we have something for everyone. 


Our standing appointment on Thursdays is for all stages. We also host specific breakout groups once a month for specific stages and subtypes such as Metastatic breast cancer, and Inflammatory Breast Cancer, etc. 


The Book Club meets the first Sunday of every month at 11 am ET. You are welcome to join each month or pick and choose your month based on your availability and the book we are reading. 


Through art, writing, and other creative modalities, we hold the power to manage our stress, make sense of our now, and relax into moments of stillness. 


Free, monthly, online classes in restorative yoga, yoga for breast cancer, and Zumba. 


Después de un Diagnóstico