Exploring the Art of Listening
A conference for bereavement visitors, counsellors, clergy, family support workers, healthcare professionals, community leaders, teachers and learning support assistants.
Wednesday 30th October 2019 – 10.00am – 3.30pm
Men and women fundamentally listen differently, the 38th Annual Bereavement Care Conference was told.
Not surprisingly this was greeted with knowing smiles by the predominately female members from synagogue, church and inter-faith groups. Spelling out the differences was keynote speaker, Emmanuel Aharoni, a former accountant and recruitment consultant and later, before retiring, a management consultant, specialising in behaviour in the work place.
The conference, which has been for several years usually held at Mosaic Reform Synagogue in Bessborough Road, was held for the first time at St Helen’s School in Northwood on October 30. The theme was Hear Hear! Exploring the art of listening.
Mr Aharoni said: “When I told my wife I was going to talk about listening, she laughed and said you never listen to me.
“Most men can’t talk and listen at the same time and women can. From my experience I discovered that listening is taught least and used most.”
He said research in the USA had shown this is because the brain works differently in men and women and is the same reason women are better at multi-tasking.
He added that it was really hard to listen properly. He said: “You have to pick up what’s not said, tone, pitch, emotion. You will generally pick up the right emotion from (spoken) words which you won’t get in texts and emails.”
He said there were similarities between recruitment and bereavement visiting. In both cases you need to ask open questions, avoid interruptions and use open and encouraging body language.
He said: “Don’t assume people listen the same way as you do, ask for clarification; how do you mean, tell me more, use your eyes.”
A series of scenarios to illustrate effective and ineffective listening were performed by actors with feedback from Conference delegates. In the afternoon session, discussion forums were held on listening skills.
Feedback included the importance of giving a bereaved person space to talk, not having your own agenda, not assuming how someone felt and how important it was to put any personal negative feelings aside.
Deputy Mayor of Hillingdon Cllr Teji Barnes, a former volunteer for The Samaritans, said: “Your bereavement support service is very much recognised in our health and well-being strategy. We all experience the loss of loved ones at some stage in our lives and all cope differently with grief. We all need a listening ear and tight hug.
“In the current climate Bereavement Care is priceless and we value and appreciate you.”
Judy Silverton, Chair of the Conference Planning Group, thanked everyone for their involvement, not least the amazing sandwich makers, as well as local sponsors.
Written by Jane Harrison Photographs by David Pollak