July 18, 2018

The Talking Stick

As a guidance Counsellor, I had to learn how to listen with not only my ears but also with my heart and eyes as we mentioned in our Habit 5 lesson in The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. Remember, we have to pay very close attention with our eyes, ears and heart if we want others to feel like they are worthy of being heard. Many people feel that they are not worthy to be heard by others which causes low self-esteem. Truly listening is a rare gift that can be taught to others. I did so as a guidance Counsellor and now as a mentor and trainer whenever I have an opportunity to teach it. Each year I would train a group of middle years Peacekeepers. And, as you can imagine, listening is one skill that Peacekeepers, Educators and Parents must have to be able to be successful. In his book, The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make, Covey says, “The single most important communication skill you can ever learn is how to listen. Real listening doesn’t mean you’re just silent, it means that you’re actively trying to understand another human being. Often we get into trouble because we jump to conclusions without understanding all the details.” So, the way I taught my Peacekeepers how to listen was by role playing with each other. Try the following activity that may help you  develop that rare skill of “Truly Listening.”


  • In groups of 3, take turns telling a story about something that upset you or made you very happy. The other two, try to paraphrase what each person is saying. Use a talking stick or rock whenever you are telling the story. When the storyteller feels truly understood, the talking stick is passed to the person on his/her right. Once everyone has had a chance to be heard, debrief with each other and with the large group.
  • Look up the word paraphrase and try paraphrasing what characters are saying in any novel, short story or children’s book. You can do this by yourself or in groups of two or three.