Module 5: Communication and Listening Skills

Communication is like sending a package. Our message is our package. A message is how we share information, knowledge, experiences, thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions. When sending a package or a message, there is a sender and a receiver engaging in a two-way communication. As parent mentors, you are the receivers of the “package,” the emotional content, as well as, plain content.

First Contact Guidelines

  • After introducing yourself, ask if it’s a good time to talk.
  • If it’s not a good time, leave your contact information and offer to call them at a better time.
  • Issue an “open door” to talk.
  • Find out what the parent’s expectations are: what is she/he looking for in a support parent.
  • Before ending a conversation, ask if the parent has any questions.
  • Let the parent know that you’ll be contacting them again and that they can contact you, as well.
  • If you would find it helpful, a contact log is provided for you in your mentor training materials.
  • The program coordinator will check in with you in approximately one week to inquire whether a connection has yet been made and to inquire whether either you or the parent needs any additional assistance or resources.

Please watch the following video: Example of an Ineffective First Call

Video from Delta Gama Center for Children with Visual Impairments


Please watch the following video: Example of an Effective First Call

Video from Delta Gama Center for Children with Visual Impairments

Developing Empathetic Listening Skills

  1. Listen
    • Suspend judgment
    • Try to understand the other’s perspective
    • Ask information questions
    • Give both verbal and non-verbal support
  2. Acknowledge
    • Let the other person know that you’ve heard them and that you appreciate the importance of the issue to them.
    • If it’s true, it’s fine to indicate that you understand how they feel or that you have had/are having similar kinds of feelings.
  3. Respect
    • Never discount another’s experiences or perceptions…they are real for that person.
    • Avoid saying things like “I think you’re making too much of this.”
    • Avoid sarcasm or ridicule.
  4. Appreciate
    • It can be difficult for some people to open up their feelings to a stranger. Say things like “I know it can be hard to discuss these things; I appreciate your making the effort to talk with me about them.”
  5. Follow Through
    • If you’ve offered to send a parent something or promised action on some way, please don’t delay…do it as soon as possible.
    • Check back in a week or so to confirm that the action has been completed and ask how things are going.

Please watch the following video: Importance of Effective Listening

Video from Delta Gama Center for Children with Visual Impairments

Communication Skills: Communication LAADDER

The communication LAADER provides a helpful reminder of strategies to use when engaging with another parent:

L Language – verbal and non-verbal
A Ask Open Questions
A Affirm Feelings
D Don’t Change Subject
D Don’t Interrupt
E Emotions – keep yours in check
R Reflect and Respond

Content adapted from SEEC’s Parent to Parent (P2) peer mentoring program. Available at

Continue to Module 6

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