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Conversations Toward Action

Deep Listening Training in Jackson, TN

What is "Deep Listening"?

At SOCM, we know that base-building is a critical building block of any community-based organizing effort. Tackling critical issues in our own backyards means stepping out of our comfort zones to talk with our neighbors, ask good questions, listen, invite new people into the work, and plan a course of action together. We know this sort of power-building doesn't happen by magic. It starts with planning, structure, and members who are willing to have conversations with their neighbors. 

Deep Listening is a tried and tested form of base-building that uses personal story-telling as a way to build common ground around critical issues that impact people in our communities. While traditional canvassing methods are often transactional and focused on sharing information, deep listening focuses on asking questions, listening, establishing connection based on personal experience, and inviting folks to consider what their role in addressing these issues might be.  

Our members are learning to use deep listening methods to engage impacted residents in conversation about broad areas of concern, identify specific challenges and opportunities that emerge from the conversations, and turn this information into an actionable plan that moves towards true community-led change. 

Deep listening conversations can take place through door-knocking, event tabling, pre-scheduled 1-on-1 conversations, small groups, or other venues. The general goals for each conversation include:

  • Opening up conversation about a problem or challenge facing the community

  • Building relationship and identifying common ground across traditional social-political divides 

  • Identifying potential new community leaders

  • Identifying what specific issues people in our community care about 

  • Understanding why they care about those issues

  • Understanding what folks would like to see happen (hopes and opportunities)

  • Inviting folks to take a next step to address their concerns alongside their neighbors

Through these conversations, our members will gain a better understanding of the issues that impact their neighbors, identify emerging themes, and bring new folks together to work towards long-term solutions.

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