Scouts say listening to each other is the key to a cohesive society

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New research from the Scouts shows that better listening, and listening more often, are the keys to a more cohesive society and a better working environment. Significantly, it has also revealed that more than 9 out of 10 UK adults believe that Scouts helps young people to develop these crucial listening skills.

YouGov polled over 2,000 adults for the research, which revealed that 87% of adults who expressed a view believe that UK society would be more cohesive if people took more time to actively listen to each other. Despite this, some 86% of adults said we don’t listen to each other enough. 

Scouts learn listening as one of many skills for life, whether they’re adventuring safely in the outdoors, helping others in their communities through the award-winning ‘A Million Hands’ campaign, or shaping their Scout experience by making decisions that matter. 91% of respondents agree that Scouts help young people to develop listening skills, by working together with different kinds of people in small teams. 

The listening skills young people gain through Scouts are vital for their wellbeing, both now and in the future. Listening improves a young person’s ability to communicate, feel more connected to their community and peers, and build relationships; all important parts of a young person’s development. 

Our Chief Scout also believes in the power of listening. Bear Grylls said: ‘Listening and learning go hand in hand. The most successful people I know in life are all great listeners, and they don’t talk too much. They listen first and listen often. They are able to really hear what is being said and understand the person that is speaking. There are fewer misunderstandings, more cooperation and more opportunities to learn when you listen to what a person is saying.’

Listening is also linked to better academic performance, and success in later life. It’s crucial to engaging effectively with others in wider society – and 97% of those surveyed believe that active listening leads to a more productive work environment. We all know that in the workplace, listening is essential for avoiding ineffective decisions and costly mistakes.

Our Scout Ambassadors agree that active listening skills have helped them succeed at work and beyond. 

Tim Peake, Scout Ambassador and European Space Agency Astronaut, said: ‘Active listening, not just hearing, is such an important life skill. It promotes better teamwork, understanding and cooperation, which are essential at work, at home, and in wider society. While aboard the International Space Station, attentive listening was critical to our mission success. It’s never too early to start, and as a young person the Scouts was already teaching me this valuable skill for life.’

Warwick Davis, Scout Ambassador and actor, said: ‘Good listening is as important around the dinner table at as it is on the set of a Hollywood movie. In my profession, if actors don’t listen to each other, the scene doesn’t work. The same applies in real life – it’s about putting down your phone when we’re together, taking the time to understand different points of view and showing respect for each other. When Scouts learn listening skills, it encourages them to develop empathy and understand more about the needs of different kinds of people. Active listening really is a skill for life.’

Becoming an active listener at an early age will help young people throughout their lives. Simple activities like reading a story and guessing what might happen next, reading a recipe and gathering the listed ingredients, and asking children to repeat (and follow!) instructions for simple everyday tasks, are easy ways to help children develop these skills. 

Listening is just one of the many skills for life that the Scouts’ 638,000 members develop every year. 

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