The Art of Listening

The Art of Listening_01

In early November, St. Andrew’s Resource Centre hosted a seminar concerning the importance of listening. The event, officially titled The Art of Listening, looked at the necessity of accurate listening and communication skills to deal with people who may be in trouble, or people who may need a shoulder to lean on.

Brendan Gallagher, of the Dublin Samaritans and Dr. Tony Bates, the Founding Director of Headstrong, took part in the talk. “Listening is an art and with the amount of people in crisis, it’s an art that can literally save lives,” said Brendan. “A crisis for one person may be simply a new challenge for another. You should find a space where there are going to be no interruptions. Turn off your mobile phone and by doing so, you are telling the person what they have to share is important.”

At the seminar, Brendan focused on the importance of active listening, suggesting that the feelings a person may have about a particular incident may be worse than the actual problem. Brendan also spoke about the importance of the Listening Wheel, which involves asking open questions, being able to summarise events, reflecting and clarifying what the person said.

Dr. Bates also spoke at length about the importance of the Samaritans and highlighted some of the work Headstrong undertakes. The organisation has been influential within youth mental health, publishing reports and undertaking projects such as Jigsaw, a community-based mental health project with sites across the country.

“Active Listening is a technique of the mind and the heart. This means that you can have a certain structure to the conversation,” said Brendan.

In the past, both organisations held similar seminars concerning mental health related topics or, in Headstrong’s case, a talk by a Clinical Psychologist for children out in Ballymun.

For more information on the Samaritans you can visit their website or you can have a look at the Headstrong website

By Liam Cahill