Learning how to listen at 3Generate

All We Can, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund, offered the session ‘Why aren’t we listening?’ to encourage people to listen actively, empathically and without assumptions to people at 3 Generate – the children's and youth assembly of the Methodist Church.

30 April 2024

After a quick introduction, people were encouraged to get in pairs to talk about why don’t people listen and respond to what their partners said. “People think they know the answer,” answers a young person. “They don’t care,” adds another. “They make assumptions,” says a third one.

The overall consensus was that people don’t have the time, emotional availability or tools to properly listen to those around them. Rebecca Byass, Engagement Officer at All We Can, then offered an active listening exercise, reading the story of Goldilocks.


She followed up by asking questions such as “Is G a small girl?” and “Are there three bears?” and asking for people to answer questions. A little girl has her hand up for almost every answer.

“Hands up if you would run away after waking up and seeing three bears? Fight? Hide under the covers?” The little girl has her hand up to fight, saying she is not scared of the bears. “We cannot assume that she ran because she was scared,” says Rebecca, “She might have been embarrassed for getting into their house and falling asleep.”

The point Rebecca was making was that, even in a story as well-known as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, there are many unknowns where our unconscious fills in the gaps and it is something we need to acknowledge and work on.

“At All We Can, it's all about listening. It's at the heart of who we are and what we do. I think everyone could do better and be a bit better at listening. So we thought we'd do exercises with people to demonstrate the power of listening, as well as the need and importance for it,” adds Finley Brown from All We Can.

During the session, they also showed a video about poverty and how a man changed his mindset, saved money and bought a bicycle for his business in Africa. It was not about promoting All We Can’s work but about giving people tools to fulfil their potential and change their lives instead of giving them money. “For us, the way we work in international development is all about finding out what people need and how we can best help them in that,” explains Finley. Active and empathetic listening is necessary for that.

They repeated the exercise three times over the weekend, engaging children and young people in listening and thinking about how they could improve their skills. “Challenging ourselves and bettering ourselves is just a way of living. Being called a good listener, is a good compliment,” concludes Finley.

We’re back at the NEC in Birmingham from 4 – 6 October. Check out: www.3Generate.org.uk to find out more.

Watch the brand new promo video here: https://vimeo.com/935387565

Have you already signed up to volunteer for this year’s event? It would be great if you can as well as spreading the word to encourage others to join the team. Bring a friend to be on the team and have twice the fun! Take a look at all the opportunities available and sign up here: www.methodist.org.uk/3Genvols