Today in class, we tried a 15 minute supportive listening exercise. In random groups of 3-4 people, students told their group members what felt discouraging, what their stressful workload felt like, and/or what made them feel “stuck” in their research or writing for the honors college. The other group members listened in order to support, provide encouragement, and ask questions like, “What do you think you should do next? What’s your next step?” They also provided encouraging words or advice if appropriate.
They loved it! I told them about my own “Encouragement Group” that formed in 1999 that still meets each month. It’s a group of us from graduate school who gathered for supportive listening and encouragement. Now, we live scattered across the world (one member Zooms in from the UK) with different careers, but we all still need encouragement.
I asked my students if the activity inspired them to find a support group like this. I helped them take the next steps in forming such a group. A supportive listening group doesn’t mean you’re with your best friends; it means you’re with people working toward similar goals who seek professional encouragement. I highly recommend the practice!