From the Publisher’s Desk: Talk is easy. Listening is hard

Teresa Wippel
Teresa Wippel

A month ago, I had an opportunity to observe a group of people learning how to listen TO each other, rather than talking AT each other.

It wasn’t easy.

Jim Henderson and Jim Hancock of the 3 Practices Group Method invited me to observe the session in preparation for a similar event I am co-sponsoring on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at Edmonds Community College.

The 3 Practices are simple:

  1. I’ll be unusually interested in others.
  2. I’ll stay in the room with difference.
  3. I’ll stop comparing my best with your worst

At the session I observed, it was clear that participants had a hard time escaping the default mechanism that most of us  — me included! — have: To make sure our opinions are known and that our voices are heard. Little attention is usually given to truly listening to what others think. We are too busy formulating our next response to reinforce our own point of view.

Jim Hancock, 3 Practices Method co-founder, says: “The 3 Practices help us understand without capitulating. They lower the emotional temperature by increasing understanding between ideological opposites. Understanding doesn’t guarantee agreement, but it contributes to mutual respect when we disagree. We look forward to helping attendees refine their skills so that they can discuss tough issues in a respectful manner, regardless of personal or political ideology.”

Those attending the Jan. 30 session, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Edmonds Community College,  will learn general principles to facilitate a respectful conversation on any topic. In past sessions, Hancock and Henderson have focused on topics ranging from immigration to gun control to economic inequity. But I specifically requested that the Jan. 30 event address affordable housing and homelessness — a topic of interest not only locally but regionally in recent years.

Like our neighbors in surrounding cities, Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace have been dealing with issues of affordable housing and homelessness. While this 3 Practices session isn’t going to solve those those challenges, it is aimed at ensuring that we can develop the skills to talk with each other about them. My hope is that by improving our listening skills, we will be able to better work together to find solutions.

During the Jan. 30 session, the organizers will briefly explain what makes the 3 Practices work, and then quickly dive into modeling a group so that those attending can witness the process firsthand. Following this opening round, attendees will have the opportunity to respond, ask questions, and then try their hand at the first of the 3 Practices: “I’ll be unusually interested in others.” The event will wrap up with audience observations about the issues discussed.

Please accept my sincere invitation to attend the Jan. 30 event. Let’s work together to ensure we all have the skills to address the challenges in our community.

The event is free, thanks to support from the 3 Practices Group, Edmonds Community College and Campbell Auto Group, and no reservation is necessary. It will be in Room 202 at Woodway Hall (next to the Lynnwood Golf Course) on the Edmonds Community College campus. Parking is free. You can find a campus map here.

Hope to see you at 7 p.m. Jan. 30.


Teresa Wippel, Publisher



9 Replies to “From the Publisher’s Desk: Talk is easy. Listening is hard”

  1. This will be great. After we all go or view the video I am sure our discussions on gun control, affordable housing, homelessness, opiate addiction, and taxes will be much more civil and built on the idea of problem solving.


    1. Hi Darrol, I am not seeing the way to find the video you referred to in your comment here. Would you please help me find it?


  2. Sure wish I could attend, Teresa. So good and far sighted of you to do this. A while back I realized that I had become a thought prisoner of a couple “isms” and “ideologies” in my own thinking and vowed to do something about it if I could. Ideals and platitudes are easy, real solutions to real problems, not so much. Anyway, good on you. Clint


    1. Thanks Clint. I find myself slipping into some of that myself – easy to do. I look forward to working on it.


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