The founder of the men’s mentoring network, Men’s Business, has developed a workshop to help men learn how to better listen.
Miles Potter has run ‘The Listening Shed’ out of Men’s Shed WA and other local men’s groups for the past few months. Contrary to the stereotypical view that men find it difficult to talk, Miles maintains that more blokes would open up if they felt it safe to talk about personal problems.
He points to recent research from Movember, where 41% of respondents said they had regretted opening up in the past because they weren’t taken seriously or respected.
“The way to get more men talking is getting more men to listen well,” says Miles.
“Most of us think simply listening to another man is too passive to make any difference but it’s a gift when done with care and respect. When a man listens, he demonstrates that what the other has to say is valuable and talking is useful.
“With space to speak, a man can think. Seemingly insurmountable problems get exposed to the light. He can break them down into manageable pieces, run scenarios and test ideas. His confidence grows.”
The men attending The Listening Shed are paired up into speakers and listeners. The latter are asked to look interested, push their opinions aside, refrain from offering advice and ask one or two questions, thus creating space for the speakers to talk, think and solve their own problems.
One man in the workshop shared a story about his wife being in terrible pain after a botched hospital procedure. The man had felt extreme anger towards the doctor in charge and ranted to another man he had been paired with at the Listening Shed.
“Then I sat beside this man whose name I still don’t know. He’s listened the whole time. What a relief just to talk. I’ve decided to take my wife straight back to the hospital to receive proper care.”
Miles said a space had been created for the man’s anger to be expressed and transform into something more manageable, from which he could make a plan.
“I never thought just listening would be enough,” said another participant. “But all we need to do is ask each other, ‘How can I help you?’, put down the mobile and not interrupt.”
Miles says listening is as simple as this: ask another man if he’d like to talk and then just listen and let the magic begin.
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