This training course aimed to enhance participants’ listening skills to listen more effectively and empathically, for more successful communication.
The training course was funded by the Erasmus+ (Key Action 1) and organized by Austrian Civil Society Organization “COOBRA – cooperativa braccianti”.
PRAXIS GREECE Organisation is the partner of this project, with 4 participants from Greece.
The program took place from the 29th of June until 7th of July 2022 in Strengberg, Austria. People from Greece, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Latvia gathered at a wonderful venue in Strengberg, a small village around 150 km away from Vienna, in a beautiful, hilly region close to the Danube. People of different cultures and age groups came together, managed to break the ice and connect with each other, through various activities, using non-formal education tools.
Some of the issues that the group discussed in the first few days was the definition of listening, as well as ways to listen more effectively and empathically.
Some of them were:
- Creation of a safe space, crucial for effective communication, so that all people engaging in the conversation can both listen and feel heard.
- Achieving empathy is equally as important for proper communication.
- Listening carefully to our own needs in order to be good listeners and be present, offering our undivided attention to the speaker. Among the things that the group has learned is that listening and acknowledging the speaker’s experience, emotions and opinions through various techniques, such as mirroring, turns out to be more helpful than giving advice.
This article will briefly present two of the activities that took place during the training course.
1. Listening to Nature: Trainers gave participants small loops of rope which they placed in a part of the venue’s garden, using it as a window to a small world, in order to observe it better. Some participants chose to place their ‘windows’ to the ground, others on the trees or manmade structures connected with nature, observing the world through these tiny ‘windows’, paying attention to the details, appreciating life even in its tiniest form and being mindful and grateful of all the life surrounding us.
Later, the participants paired up with someone in the group and they exchanged observations about their chosen ‘microcosms’ magnifying the differences both between the participants and between the natural and artificial environments
2. Mindful Eating: The activity the participants engaged in was created in order to better appreciate the raw materials, human resources and oftentimes mechanical processes required to create the food most people take for granted. It was an exercise in self-reflection, where participants enjoyed food using all their senses, while being grateful for all the resources used to create the food. The food used was some vegan chocolate, that all the participants enjoyed much more than they expected.
It was an enlightening experience that all participants were able to gain something from, and gained tools to use in their daily personal and professional life, along with personal development and connections with/between themselves, different cultures and nature.
- Members of the PRAXIS - Greece , the Greek team