Door Openers and Road Blocks

I Hear You


Topics Covered: Interpersonal Effectiveness, Communication Skills, and Fairness


A while back (in September) 2nd grade and I learned that people listen better if we speak in a certain way. The way our voice sounds is important. It’s also important to know if people like to be touched while you talk to them. This came from the lesson, Connecting With Others Through Body Language. Sadly the last 2nd grade lesson I posted this year. I promise to be better :).

Anyways, as a good reminder for the duration of these lessons: Remember most people don’t like to have their personal pace invaded. So how do we show our emotions without getting others too close?

You see, Mark was very bossy. He never listened to his friend Dennis’ feelings when he tried to tell him something. When he talked to Dennis, he always gave him not-so-good feelings by interrupting, yelling, calling him names, and blaming him for everything that went wrong. After a while Dennis stopped playing with Mark. Mark felt lonely because Dennis was his last friend.

This lesson talks about how to listen to your friends. It’s easy to listen to someone’s words, but its also important to understand their feelings.

I always emphasize to the boys that we listen with 3 things. We listen with our ears, our minds, and our hearts.

Feelings don’t talk but we can listen to feelings. Suppose your friend said, “Oh boy only 6 days until Christmas.” How do you suppose your friend is feeling?

Or . . .  Try this one. Your friend says, “I don’t want to play with this dumb building set. It’s stupid. I can never make a car.” Now, how is your friend feeling?

When we listen actively, we are listening to a person’s feelings.

example 2 Why is it important to listen to someone’s feelings?

  • Understand the person speaking to you
  • You could say something like, “Let’s build the car together.”
  • Help others become less afraid to their not-so-good feelings.
  • A friend might think, “Wow, my friend understands me and that feels great.”
  • When you listen to the feelings of others, they will listen to yours.
  • Remember when you listen actively, you are listening with your ears, mind, and heart.

Go back to your friend who said he didn’t want to play with the building set. What if you said, “What’s the matter? This is easy. Why can’t you figure it out?” How do you think your friend would feel?

Would your friend want to keep talking to you?

Here I introduce two new “topics:” road blocks and door openers.


Roadblock and Door Opener Diagram

First, we identify what a road block is. I even show them various road blocks they probably have seen while riding in the car. Basically, the boys understand that road blocks tell someone that the road is not okay to drive on and you must turn around and find a new way.

When we don’t listen to our friend’s feelings, it’s like putting up a roadblock. We are putting up a sign and making our friends turn away.

Roadblocks aren’t helpful. BUT . . . Listening actively is considered a door opener. We are telling our friend we understand and opening the door.

I created the sign above to help better show door opening and road block phrases. What do these sound like?

Sometimes repeating some of the words a person said is a door opener.

If a teacher said, “Time to clean up this classroom, it looks like a tornado hit here.”And you respond by saying, “It does look like a tornado hit. Let’s start cleaning up.” By repeating what the teacher said, you are showing her you understood.example 1

Next important piece of conversation is knowing that silence is an appropriate part of conversation and knowing when to use it.

Silence is golden. Gold is very precious and sometimes so is silence. There are times when it is best to say nothing. That’s why we say silence is golden.

When a person feels angry or sad for example, it is best to listen (without interrupting), nod your head to show you understand, and then discuss the problem calmly when the person is done talking.

Let’s practice all together. Have the boys volunteer responses to the scenario below.

“I don’t know what to do. I lost my mom’s gold necklace. She let me borrow it and told me NOT to lose it. I don’t know what to do know.”

Now do some partner work with the students. Have them practice responding to the situations below. How do you respond to these things to show your friend you understand his feelings?

  1. Cursive writing is too hard.
  2. I don’t want to show my mom this math paper. She will be mad.
  3. Look, I made this lego car all by myself.
  4. I’ll never play soccer as good as Sam.
  5. We are moving to California and I don’t know anyone there.
  6. Jeremy won’t play with me.
  7. Guess what! I made a touchdown in my game this Saturday.

Lastly, we finished the session with an Roadblock or Door Opener Activity Page designed to identify road blocks and door openers, as well as identify how a friend might feel in a certain situation.


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