Listen With Your Body
How Elementary School Teachers Train Children to Pay Attention
Active listening is an essential skill for church leaders in today’s rapidly changing world. In an age of distraction, listening takes some work. It’s natural for our attention to wander as we listen to others speak, but we can train ourselves to be better listeners. One way is to position your body in a way that prompts your mind to pay attention.
If you’ve been in an elementary school classroom recently you might have seen a poster that reads: “SLANT.” SLANT is a mnemonic that encourages children (and adults) to listen actively through posture and simple actions. Here’s what it stands for:
Sit Up: Scoot back in your chair or stand up straight and bring your gaze up and forward. Unfold your arms and legs, communicating that you are open to what the speaker is saying.
Lean Forward: Slightly lean towards the speaker as if you don’t want to miss a word.
Ask Questions: If you ask questions it will force you to listen to what the speaker is talking about. If a conversation is beginning to dwindle, try asking the other person a good open-ended question instead of jumping in with your own thoughts.
Nod Your Head: This causes you to listen to the content of the words as well. No one wants to be nodding their head at an inappropriate moment.
Track the Speaker: Keep your eyes pointed at the speaker even as they move about the room. Note it’s hard to track the speaker if you’re looking at your cell phone.
The beauty of this simple formula for active listening is it points to the connection between the speaker and the listener and reminds us that this connection takes work. Think about how much prep time you spend before leading a presentation. What if we took listening as seriously? So next time you’re sitting in a meeting or talking to a friend give SLANT a try.