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Active listening as a path to inviting people to join Collado Mediano’s Talentshow

30 October 2017

Today, on the 2nd full day of the program, we did an exercise to practice active listening before going out into the community to collect the stories and talents that lie behind the beauties that we discovered yesterday in the Appreciative Gaze phase. So we were continuing with the Affection phase that we started yesterday.

The active listening exercise made me realise that listening really is a skill, albeit an often undervalued one, which can affect the way the other person tells their story, what they choose to share, the quality of the interaction, the level of connection experienced and much more.  We saw how it was important to let the person tell their story and resist the urge to jump in and share something that you maybe relate to in their story, to allow for silences as these give space for people to reflect and often result in them sharing more, the importance of eye contact, of heart connection, and of letting the person know you are really giving your full attention.  Also the art of summarising back to the person and asking pertinent questions to help extract the key elements of the story are helpful tools in active listening.

After the exercise we went into the community again in pairs and put this into practice with the people we met. Our goal was also to promote the talent show that we were going to hold later the same day at 6:30pm as well as to start drawing out the stories of the people we met and what their dreams were for their village.  We went to the sports centre, and what started as a routine interaction with the coordinator of sports about putting a poster up ended up turning into a really beautiful conversation about the town and what he felt was needed, what his dreams were and some ideas he had also.  I used some of the techniques of active listening, such as: making an emotional connection with the person I was talking to, asking the right questions at the right time, and then letting him tell his story.  He said he was sorry that it was such short notice about the talent show and that he couldn’t come because of work and nor could his wife. So I was so surprised and happy that evening when I saw him at the talent show with his two sons, and even more delighted when he went up on stage and talked to people about the sports centre and the opportunities available for people there.  I find it quite difficult to approach and talk to people I don’t know (I find it hard enough in my own language and even harder in Spanish!) so I was really proud of this little achievement, which came out of just such an approach.  I was also inspired by the number of people that came to the talent show, to perform or just to watch. It turned out so much better than I expected, as I have to admit I was worried about whether anyone would come.  In the end it was a really beautiful event, with people already starting to share their dreams. And as we closed the evening, dancing in the circle with all the Oasis team and the people of Collado Mediano who came felt so joyful and inspirational that I sharted to believe that if we keep on working together we will achieve something great!

This blogpost is written by Jenny Hyde, participant of the Rural Codes program in Collado Mediano. This post is a story based on the 2nd step of the Oasis Game: Affection