Learn the art of non-judgmental active listening with Samaritans

Learn the art of non-judgmental active listening with Samaritans

PAWTUCKET - The Samaritans of Rhode Island has announced "Listening Beyond Words," a new program designed to promote active and non-judgmental listening.

"At the Samaritans, we practice a communications-based response called 'befriending,' which emphasizes listening to what a person is feeling and thinking without expressing personal judgments," said Denise Panichas, executive director of the Samaritans. "Every day, we at the Samaritans know there are missed opportunities to connect, in a meaningful way, with our loved ones, our family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, clients, customers and constituents. As a longtime trusted charitable organization, we are in a unique position to increase awareness of the importance of nonjudgmental active 'listening' at home, school, at work and in the community."

* At home, missed opportunities to connect with loved ones often lead to hurt feelings, misunderstandings and isolation, said Panichas.

* At work, not listening leads to unsure expectations, poor client relations, unhappy employees, frustrated managers and less then desired business outcomes.

* In the community, missed opportunities often lead unnecessarily to distrust and conflict.

"By participating in our class, we hope to persuade participants to think differently about what they hear people say and how they respond," said Panichas.

According to Panichas, the class is not about suicide prevention or preparation for answering the agency's Crisis Hotline/Listening Line. Suicide prevention is a complex combination of medical, behavioral and access-to-care issues that is not appropriate to address in this program's format.

She did emphasize that "connectedness" is one of several protective factors in suicide prevention and hoped that as people become better listeners and demonstrate they truly care, the more likely those who need help will feel more comfortable speaking to someone they trust.

The first class will be held on Aug. 6, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at The Samaritans Forget-Me-Not Gallery and Community Education Center, 67 Park Place, Pawtucket. The nonrefundable fee is $35. Space is limited and pre-paid reservations are required. All participants must be 18 years old and out of high school.

For a complete list of fall 2014 training dates, visit www.samaritansri.org . To register, call The Samaritans business line at 401-721-5220.