Getting to the right answer is wired into our DNA. We live in a society where game shows (and Buzz Feed Quizzes) are practically the national sport. And growing up we become all too aware that providing the right answers can reap significant benefits; praise from teachers, honor roll awards, scholarships, promotions and bragging rights. It makes sense that when people come to us with a problem… our first instinct is to rush to find and offer a solution.
We’ve witnessed first-hand how our volunteer mentors want so badly to help our youth participants that they rush to give them answers and, more often than not, the advice ends up falling on deaf ears. This “a-ha” moment is what led us to create a training for our volunteer mentors called Coach Approach, and the first skill we practice is called Active Listening. Sounds so simple, right? You might be surprised how difficult it is to actively reflect both the meaning and the emotions behind the words you’re hearing. If you want to test how great a listener you really are, you can take a short assessment here.
Coach Approach empowers youth to find their own answers and solutions to their problems. It’s much more effective to actively listen and then ask clarifying and powerful questions that get to the root of what is bothering them, what is most important to them, and what they can and want to do about it. It’s confidence-building and helps the youth come to realize that they are creative, resourceful, and whole.
Knowing what it means to be a good listener is one thing… becoming a great listener takes practice! At our Coach Approach trainings, volunteers and participants practice together in groups of three with each person taking a turn at being the coach, the coachee, and the observer. Volunteers tell us all the time that Active Listening sounds so simple, and then they find it’s actually so hard to do. But worth the effort! The success stories we hear are not only from our youth participants; coaches tell us the training has had a positive impact on their relationships with their children, spouses and co-workers.
Intrigued? Do you think you’re a great Active Listener or you want to learn how to be one? Call us at 619-269-5422 to inquire about our Coach Approach training and consider volunteering within a caring community that helps transition age foster youth achieve self-sufficiency and well-being.
We are Just in Time for Foster Youth.