Contributed by MHC StoryKeeper, Jackie Davis


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

While we are all adjusting to a much different day-to-day routine, we at MHC are here for our community to ensure we all get through this #alonetogether.

Our community of StoryKeepers is needed, now more than ever. Our ability to Be there for other, Listen without judgement, and Protect the stories we are told, make us a valuable part of the new digital community we find ourselves in.

While we can’t always be there in person, there are a variety of ways to check in with our loved ones and make ourselves available to listen. That is why this month, our focus topic is The Art of Long-Distance Listening.

What is Long-Distance Listening?
Long-Distance Listening is a skill used when communicating virtually over long distances when face-to-face communication is not an option. This can be via phone, video chat, or instant messaging. When we talk about being a good listener, a lot of the skills used when practicing this are related to eye contact and body language. When faced with the absence of face-to-face communication, you can modify these best practices for virtual communication.

How to Practice Long-Distance Listening:
1) Provide your undivided attention – When making eye contact is not an option, the intention of the action is the same. Demonstrate that you are making the effort to stay engaged in the conversation by starting out the conversation by saying you need a moment to find a quiet place to listen attentively. Verbalize your commitment to give them your full attention.

2) Good Posture, Good Manners – Having open and inviting posture goes a long way to making the speaker feel comfortable. When you can’t convey your body language, be sure to showcase your welcoming attitude with your words. Wait for the speaker to complete their thoughts before jumping in with your own and reiterate their comments to ensure you are understanding what you heard.

3) “Listen” to Body Language – Just as your posture makes a difference, the speaker’s tells part of their story as well. When you can’t see your speaker, listen to their tone of voice. Speed of speech and volume can give away clues to emotions such as anger, defensiveness, or nervousness. Being aware of emotions and non-verbal cues that show up in a conversation will allow you to adjust your responses and create space for a smoother conversation.

4) The “Golden Ratio” – According to Dr. John Gottman, healthy relationships need to maintain a ratio of 5 positive interpersonal interactions for every 1 negative interaction. Start and end your conversations with positive questions and statements.

Above all of these tips, be sure to treat your long-distance conversations just like your face-to-face ones. Stay engaged in the conversation, be attentive, and keep StoryKeeping!

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