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  LiveWire / My Forums / Viewing Peer Listener Handbook

Making Contact
Republished with permission from the Whitman College Peer Listener Handbook
Note: The handbook is an excellent resource, especially when listening in person,
however it does not perfectly mesh with LiveWire's "Peer Answers" philosophy.
Your first contact with a peer is crucial. The person is most likely anxious and it is important to be nonjudgmental, sympathetic, empathetic, and be able to listen carefully.

Below is a list of practice items to remember when making contact:

DON'T:
  • Overwhelm with advice
  • Lecture or flood with information
  • Dwell on failures -- help them move onto "improvement" or "better" instead of from wrong to right
  • Force decisions or choices
  • Undermine their right to make a decision
  • Assume -- check out assumptions with questions
  • Threat or attack
  • Tell client to relax or calm down in a demanding tone
  • Assume you know what is best
  • Take their anger personally
  • Retreat from their anger

DO:
  • Be honest, clear, and straightforward
  • Be willing to listen and empathize with feelings
  • Be tolerant
  • Be patient
  • Offer support
  • Accepting
  • Acknowledge their competency
  • Provide client with all the necessary information
  • Involve them in their growing process
  • Acknowledge and validate anger
  • Deal with feelings of anger, not their words
  • Be open
  • Actively listen
  • Responsive
Emotional reactions and volatility are normal, necessary and productive. Start where the person is and work within their system or framework.


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