This week we will prepare for an upcoming assignment where you will be interviewing someone who is considered a member of a minority group, or comes from a different culture than yourself. In order to get the most out of this assignment, it is important to consider where we are at when it comes to our listening skills. Most of us don’t have problems with conversing, but listening is another story! Without good listening skills, we cannot truly understand another’s position or experience. Poor listening skills interfere with our ability to learn, be it learning about a subject matter, or learning about another person’s story. Good listening skills are necessary in the development of critical thinking. Critical thinking is necessary for substantive learning.
In sociology, it is necessary to think critically about society and society’s social problems. Critical sociological thinking refers to, “the ability to logically and reasonably evaluate an argument or problem while maintaining an awareness of and sensitivity to social forces and social contexts” (Grauerhilz & Bouma-Holtrop, 2003, 485, as cited in Langton & Kammerer, 2005). When we do this, we are using our Sociological Imagination. Sociology often challenges commonly held assumptions that we have of our world. Without good listening skills, flexibility in considering alternatives, fair-mindedness, honesty in facing our own biases, or willingness to reconsider our views- all components of critical thinking - we will fail to question, examine, challenge, and propose new alternatives to the taken for granted social world that we have been taught (Strand, 1999, as cited in Langton et al., 2005).
Listening is an important skill because the culture of any group is embedded in that particular group’s spoken language. According to Langton et al., (2005), there are at least 3 different kinds of listening: active listening – which focuses on the person who is speaking, and mentally recording what they say; reflective listening- where the listener restates what they heard from the speaker, such as, “this is what I heard you say.” The purpose of reflective listening allows the speaker to clarify if you did not hear them in the way that they meant for you to hear them, and also it validates to the speaker that they have been heard; lastly, there is clarifying listening, where the listener asks for more information, to comment further, or to clarify what they said. What keeps us from being good listeners? There are at least 4 filters to listening that can interfere with our ability to be effective. This will be the topic of our experiential learning assignment this week. Please use the following template to help you with your interview.