It was just stated that good listening is essential for good, deep communication.
But how to create group settings where people can really listen to each other, hear each other, foster mutual empathy? Most successful communities chose to periodically dedicate some time to meet with the intention of sharing meaningful personal issues using methods for deep sharing in a large group.
Firstly, deep sharing brings positive things to light. People get to know each other’s intimate visions and dreams, passions and drives, attractions and tastes, get insight into internal and external factors that underlie people’s emotional states (like daughter’s graduation or relative’s illness).
Secondly, people get to see what others are shy about; or inhibited, afraid, prejudiced.
This can mean expressing inner feelings and attitudes that might not be pleasant for others. Thus people get the opportunity to show less shiny aspects of their personality which are usually hidden, per example frustrations and annoyances related to others or themselves. Sometimes just talking about such inner states in a safe environment is enough to resolve them. Deep sharing contributes considerably to the community glue.
Keeping up polished facade comes in the way of community building, while standing face to face to someone else’s weak side opens room to love and understanding. If unpleasant things are not shared and thus eventually brought to light, tensions might accumulate, build up pressure and possibly lead to an “explosion” in the group.
Naturally, deep sharing happens when friends meet casually and have a conversation.
Such instances of deep sharing can be even more valuable than organised events. Nevertheless, deep sharing events in the large group can contribute greatly to shared communication culture.
Group projects around the globe use various methods for deep sharing, such as ZEGG-Forum, Community-Building (by Scott Peck), and Circle Way.
These methods have some common aspects as they seek to create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect through the introduction of some basic rules:
- speak about yourself, your own experience and feelings (even if they were triggered by other people), and avoid being judgmental of others,
- speak from your heart, and only about things that are relevant to you,
- speak about your needs and wishes and do not blame others for your situation,
- see the sharing as self-exploratory journey, do not use it to hold speeches,
- listen with gratitude and respect for those who speak, seeing their words as a present to the group and an insight into diversity of human experience,
- commit to confidentiality about everything that you heard, particularly about very sensitive, intimate matters.
Some of the methods endorse periods of silence and recommend appreciative feedback to people who spoke.