Five Listening Practices for Transformation

Updated: Nov 10

Listening is essential to community transformation. Here are five ways to listen in thoughtful, curious, and empowering ways.


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During the COVID-19 pandemic our Vancouver team put these listening practices in action with over 150 neighbours to hear about needs and hopes in the community in those unprecedented times.

Listening is essential to our work. We need to listen well to our context in order to partner with our neighbours toward transforming our community. Here are five listening practices you can adopt with your neighbours as you seek transformation.


1. Linger in the conversation and see what develops


Being present to others means giving space to think and to share. When we pause to give space to others, more thoughts, questions, and ideas float to the surface and are shared. Perhaps they were wondering if they could share that one half-thought they had. Maybe they’re not used to being asked what they think. Lingering yields the “you know what else?...” ideas.


2. Ask open-ended questions


Consider how different “What are the gifts of this community” sounds from “Do you like living here?” The former invites imagination and the latter requires a yes or no response. Open-ended questions inspire insight.


3. Share your curiosity about their life and the community


Your neighbours have unique perspectives on the community and have stories to tell! What might you learn by asking your neighbour a question like, I’ve always wondered, what’s your earliest memory of the neighbourhood? What’s the best restaurant? What’s made the community successful? How have friendships formed?


4. Embrace awkward pauses


It’s only awkward if you make it awkward. Pauses allow for gathering thoughts, thinking of questions, and reflecting on what has been said. Get comfortable with silence. No one’s ever died from an awkward moment.


5. Ask who else might want to share


All our neighbours are a part of relational networks. What new friendships might be formed by asking, “Who else is passionate about what you’re passionate about?” Bringing others into a transforming community empowers neighbours and makes outsiders, insiders.


Wondering about what it looks like to listen to God, your neighbour and yourself deeply on the journey towards justice and mutual transformation in your community?


Servant Partners’ Community Transformation Certificate helps people listen to God, neighbour, and themselves as the central posture for community transformation. Our Winter 2023 cohort is running February 6-April 24.


You can learn more and sign up for the CTC here!


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