Here’s how The Listening Depot works. You and a friend sit down with each other. One is the sharer. One is the listener. You can do this anywhere (ideally someplace private and quiet).

A Listening Depot session is not a conversation or an interview. It’s not a counseling session or an interrogation. It’s simply an intentional situation that you and a friend create so that one of you can be heard and one of you can practice your listening skills. The closest real-life analogies might be a client sharing with their hairdresser or a regular patron sharing with their bartender.

Listening Depot Guidelines

Find a friend and decide which of you will share and who will listen. Agree on an amount of time that you’ll assume these roles. During this time, all focus is on the Sharer. The Listener is there to witness and encourage the Sharer.

Both parties agree to create and maintain a safe, private environment for the duration of the session.

If you want to have a quick reference at hand that summarizes the info below, open the page for your role – either sharer or listener – on your smart phone or tablet and prop it up in front of you. Or print out this PDF on card stock; fold it in half and place it on the table between you.

If you’re the Sharer

  • Be genuine, honest, thoughtful, and calm.
  • Look out for yourself, and remember that you don’t have to share every single thought that comes to mind; remind yourself that you chose to share with this Listener for a reason.
  • But also trust your instincts about how safe and open you feel in the moment, and share accordingly.
  • Resist always that all-too-human urge to judge yourself and the things you say
  • Just share.

If you are the Listener

  • Be kind, attentive, and genuinely curious.
  • If you’re not confident that you have understood the Sharer, reflect back what you just heard and/or ask brief clarifying questions.
  • Your curiosity and encouragement don’t always have to be verbal; sometimes you can just lean in, nod, or otherwise show your interest without talking.
  • Be OK with silence. Resist the temptation to fill pauses and gaps – the Sharer may just need time to formulate their thoughts, or to reflect.
  • Resist also the urge to solve problems, give advice, or to identify with the Sharer’s experiences.
  • Just listen.