What is constructivist listening?

Constructivist listening is a facilitation strategy designed to foster a safe space for people to speak authentically about their feelings and beliefs.

To facilitate an activity using constructivist listening principles, it is best to introduce the strategy to participants with two agreements and four guidelines. The goal of the introduction is to initiate an intention to create a safe space, invite people to participate, and frame the activity and prompts. 

Constructivist listening is most often done in dyads, or pairs, but can also be used in small group settings. In large groups, the second agreement, and last three guidelines are beneficial for setting group norms for a discussion. It may be helpful to provide each participant with a copy before or during your introduction.

Two Agreements

Four Guidelines

Each person is given equal time to talk.

Everyone deserves to be listened to.

The listener does not interpret, paraphrase, analyze, give advice, or break in with a personal story.

People can solve their own problems.

Confidentiality is maintained.

People need to know they can be completely authentic.

The speaker does not criticize or complain about a listener or about mutual colleagues during their time to talk.

A person cannot listen well when she/he is feeling attacked or defensive.

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Meagan Pollock, PhD

Dr. Meagan Pollock envisions a world where personal and social circumstances are not obstacles to achieving potential, and where kindness, inclusivity, and conservation prevail.

An international speaker, teacher, engineer, and equity leader, her mission is to provide services, tools, and resources that inspire awareness and initiate action.

As an engineer turned educator, Meagan Pollock is focused on engineering equity into education and the workforce.

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