Years ago, when I was relatively new to my career, I had a mentor who was the most amazing listener I’ve ever encountered. To this day, when I think of what it means to truly *be engaged* with someone, she is the person who comes to mind.
As a social worker, active listening was obviously one of the essential skills that was repeated again and again in coursework. Still, for me, Connie was the person who embodied the practice.
When I was in conversation with Connie, I always *felt* her listening. Maybe that sounds weird if you’ve never experienced such a thing.
I always wondered… Is it her body language? Is it the eye contact? Is it just that her face is naturally compassionate? Is it that she gave her full attention without all of the distractions that are so typical in most conversations?
I suppose it was a lovely combination of all of the above.
Connie retired from the state agency where I worked nearly two decades ago, but she will always hold a special place in my heart, largely because of how she made me *feel* when she listened.
This week’s podcast conversation with Irene van der Zande was a reminder that part of creating a safe space for member interaction involves being sure that they feel like they can share and others are truly listening.
Irene is the Executive Director and Founder of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to protecting children, teens, and adults from abuse, bullying, assault, exploitation, and other emotional or physical violence. Since 1989, the organization has served more than 6 million people of different ages, abilities, cultures, beliefs, and identities from all around the globe.
My conversation with Irene focused on the importance of creating safe spaces for members where they can feel comfortable interacting in-person or online without fear of being attacked, harassed, or bullied.
Imagine what a powerful thing it would be to create that experience for members.
- What would it be like if they *felt* the listening from your group?
- What if they *felt* the alignment of others with what they want?
- What if they *felt* the compassion for their situation?
While no one has ever emanated these qualities better than my dear friend and mentor, I think we could all benefit from infusing our member experiences with a little more listening, a little more alignment and a little more compassion.
Beyond listening, of course, Irene has provided some great resources that you may find helpful in your work. You can find those here: https://www.kidpower.org/library/
Integrity in Communication:
Kidpower Tools for Speaking Up Instead of Behind People's Backs https://www.kidpower.org/library/article/integrity-communication/
Kidpower's 10 Best Practices for Team Members https://www.kidpower.org/about-us/kidpowers-ten-best-practices/
Kidpower Safety Leadership Challenge:
Simple powerful messages to use and to share https://www.kidpower.org/safety-leadership-challenge/
Kidpower Protection Promise:
for adults to share with young people and with each other https://www.kidpower.org/library/kidpower-protection-promise/
10 Actions for Adult Leaders: for protecting children AND other adults https://www.kidpower.org/child-protection-advocacy/10-actions-for-adult-leaders/
Make Your ‘Put Safety First” Commitment for yourself and for others https://www.kidpower.org/blog/put-safety-first-commitment/
(The library is extensive, so it may be easiest to search based on your topic – like “triggers”, “harassment”, “workplace”, etc.)
She also indicated that you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org about your specific situation and she can point to resources that may be pertinent.
You can catch my interview with Irene here!
A New Resource for You
Do you know what makes the difference between a member who stays and a member who goes?
It’s all the little things that happen along the way as they are on their journey with you!
In a brand new resource that I’ve created just for you, I’ve taken the 8 stages of member experience that I’m always talking about and have broken that down even further into 25 specific touchpoints where WHAT you do and HOW you do it actually matters.
These 25 touchpoints give you a way of weaving value into the member’s experience with your organization. The really awesome part is that you don’t HAVE to do all 25. Even bumping up your approach on one or two can make a noticeable difference.
Want to get this new list? Just go to joyofmembership.com/25touchpoints to instantly download. It’s totally free.