Students Learn Ethical Communication by Listening

Ethical Listening
Dr. Annalee Ward’s communication ethics class had a new assignment this year. Students visited with residents of Providence Rest Home to practice ethical listening.

Nine students made at least three visits to an assigned resident with the intent to learn more about each resident’s life and what he or she valued. The opportunity to collaborate with Providence was arranged by the Office of Community Partnerships and Service Learning, which is directed by Anna Rosas.

“Reading the students’ journals reminded me that some lessons are best experienced rather than read about or lectured,” said Ward.

What students had to say about their visits with Providence residents…
“I realized that ethical listening here was taking one short hour out of my day to hear her story. To give her a surprise reason to be happy . . . Ethical listening was not for me to listen only for answers so I could complete a class assignment, but to be willing to let go of finding answers to the questions I had prepared and just give her time and attention to be valued. ”
–Lauren Haney ’11 of Monroeville, New Jersey

“This visit taught me not to pass judgments, but instead look for what is good or useful . . . and listen to others as I would want them to listen to me. Overall this experience has been helpful in not only learning how to be a better listener, but also to reflect on what was shared and reevaluate my life and how I’m choosing to live it.”
–Christy Boersma’11 of Grand Rapids, Michigan

“I think that ethical listening is being there with someone, not just physically, but also being there with an intent to listen. It includes being interested in someone else’s life and caring for them, no matter how well you know them or not. It means responding in encouraging ways.”
–Melissa G. Voss ’11 of Chicago Ridge, Illinois

“While I was with her, I was trying not to think about my next question, but really understand what she was trying to tell me. I think that in this situation, to be an ethical listener means taking the time and actually listening to what the other person is saying . . . with our full attention.”
–Elise Schulting ’12 of Richmond, Texas

“Ethics aren’t just about topics or the way we approach them but about the way we approach the people involved.”
–Jez Layman ’12 of Homer Glen, Illinois