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What is a long term listener and how to be one (Information for Listeners)

by Laura

Hello Listener Community!

As a follow-up to Glen’s forum post about creating long term relationships with your members, in this post I will be providing you a clear understanding on how to get involved in the Long Term Support Program and how it would look like. Please review this post carefully to determine if this is a program you are able to participate in.

If you choose not to be a 7 Cups Long Term Listener / Sponsor, we still encourage you to review this post and be aware of this program. We know that there are many ways to support members that fall outside of this program and each and every one of those listening methods is valued. This post is meant to serve as an explanation on how to get involved as a listener in one way. But all other types of chats, supportive relationships are still encouraged. You and your member can choose what feels right for you, and that is awesome too!

(1) What is long-term supportive listening?

There are lots of members on 7 cups who want a listener to support them for a longer period of time and help them make gradual improvements. Long term support gives them a sense of security, stability, and confidence. This program is therefore designed for these members who want an ongoing progressive relationship with a listener.

(2) Why should you become a long term listener to a member?

-------> You want and are able to support someone in a more long term way

-------> You want to build a supportive relationship with your sponsee so they may have more support through their struggles

-------> Having a longer term, consistent support network sets up more effective conditions for a member to heal and work through issues in their life

-------> Gives you the opportunity to give back to the 7 Cups community in a new way

-------> Helps you further develop and refine your active listening skills. This program can give you more experience to learn and improve your skills.

(3) How many long term members can you support?

As many as you wish and are able. All we will ask is that you make sure you have the time and personal resources to take on a new sponsee. Note that if you ask a member to be your sponsee, they may say no depending on if they already have a sponsor or are not interested in participating in the program.

(4) What does a long term listening relationship look like?

A long-term listener-member relationship can be built around two alternative tracks - a structured approach & a more casual approach.

-----> Structured Track! This track is made for any listener-member pair that enjoys structured activities! Every week, both of you check in on the structured activity sub-forum for the weekly task, you complete them together, submit weekly scrum reports on your progress and then move on to the next week's activity! So far we have designed activities for the initial 8 weeks only. We are yet to come up with more activities. Additionally, you can also make use of the seven cups help guides together.

-----> More casual check-ins & chats! This may be for the pair that has already established long term supportive relationship. Structure may not work for you as a pair, so you establish your own supportive ways of connecting.

Take some time to think about what track would suit you & your sponsee best!

(5) Setting boundaries & handling over-dependence :

Many of you have raised concern about your sponsees becoming over dependent. Before you take on a member as a sponsee, you are required to have a conversation about appropriate boundaries with your potential sponsee. We have also communicated this to members on the information thread dedicated to them and they will be expecting this conversation to happen. You can learn more about what this conversation will look like in their thread. Additionally, we are planning to take some steps to help you manage these situations, including:

# Information on how to set boundaries with your member & how to let your member know if they are being over dependent.

# Forum threads where members & listeners can talk openly about how they set boundaries with one another

# If you have had the conversation above & your member is still acting in a way that is over dependant, you can PM me or one of the sub-community mentors, or you can fill out a form that we will provide you soon to let us know. Once per week, we will send out a simple feedback email to your member to remind them about the importance of boundaries and being respectful of their sponsor’s time. (Tentative idea based on feedback)

(6) How much of my personal story do I need to share with my sponsee?

The focus of your relationship should be on the sponsee and supporting them through their struggles. As this is a longer term relationship with a member, you may be presented with the opportunity to share small parts of your own story to motivate or inspire your sponsee. However, it is important to keep in mind that the relationship is not for the purpose of mutual support. We’ll ask that you carefully consider what you share about yourself, ensuring that whatever you share is in the best interest of your sponsee. This question may also play a role in how you set boundaries for yourself. The goal is to build a professional and empathetic relationship with your sponsee.

(7) As a listener, the requirements to be a sponsor are :

------->  A minimum time commitment of 2 months to support your sponsee. If you are traveling or unable to be available for the full 2 months, we’ll ask that you wait and take on a sponsee when you have this time.

-------> Note: self-care breaks are welcome during this time. We’ll just ask that you proactively communicate this to you sponsee and limit your time away to no longer than one week. If you do need to leave for longer, please let your sponsee know so they can find a new sponsor

-------> Willing to proactively check on your sponsee a minimum of 3x a week. This can be a simple message like, “Hey was just thinking about you. How are things? Shoot me an update when you can.” or more in-depth listening.

-------> Able to set healthy boundaries with your sponsee!

------->  Able to believe in your sponsee - many of us have had the opportunity to be cared for by a mentor, listener, coach, counselor or teacher. Their hope in us helped us turn the corner. They believe in us when others did not. Genuinely believe and communicate your belief in your sponsee. Let them know you are rooting for them.

-------> Stick with it! Do not give up - Your sponsee may go through hard times. They may frustrate you from time to time. That is okay and to be expected. Stick with them and continue to support them through the ups and downs.

-------> Been a listener at 7 Cups for 2+ weeks

-------> Step 10 or higher on Listener Progress Path

-------> 25 + chats (Fellow Friend badge)

-------> 1 positive written text review (Loyal Friend badge)

-------> Average star rating of 3 or higher

-------> Not necessary, but encouraged: Be working towards or have received the Verified Listener badge.

------> Willing to work through the weekly structured activities with your sponsee and share your progress.

(8) How did you decide on the requirements for listeners who want to participate in this program?

The requirements for listeners to participate were considered carefully. The threshold was decided to ensure any member who want a sponsor is able to get one. We ask listeners to commit a minimum of 2 months of time to their sponsee, so they will be more likely to stick around and make sure their sponsee does well and look out for them. We know not all sponsors/ sponsees are going to be a good match at first, but limiting the number of listeners who can participate may deprive members of sponsors or prompt them to make sub optimal connections. In fact, using the requirements set forth above will hopefully give more listeners experiences that make them better at listening and more committed to their members and our community.

Additionally, if only a small percentage of listeners can take on sponsees, we likely will have a listener burn out problem. More listeners who participate, should result in less burnout.

Finally, we need to experiment. We don't totally know exactly how this will play out in the community. So we need to build it, measure it, learn & then make any necessary updates.

(9) Awesome! This sounds great! How do I find a sponsee?

There are a few ways! It is important to note, that this process will change over time. What I have outlined below is just to get this program started!

-------> Many of you already have members you have been supporting for many weeks and months. In the upcoming weeks, you can invite these members to be your sponsee and make it official with them. This program will give you the opportunity to support your members in a more structured way if you choose.

--------> You can enable "accepting sponsee" option on the settings page of your profile once you earn the Fellow Friend (25, 1-1 chats) and the Loyal Friend (1 approved positive text review) badges. Find more guidance on this here.

-------> Find a new sponsee in the forum! We have a dedicated thread where you as a potential sponsor can post your interest in seeking a sponsee, highlighting what sort of members or issues you're looking forward to support, so that interested members can check these posts and contact you accordingly to be your sponsee. You can find it by clicking the link here
There will be a similar thread for sponsees too, where you can check their preferences or requirements and contact the ones you think you can support. 

(10) How to proceed once I am matched with a sponsee?

Here is a step by step guide on how to start and go on with the program once both of you are set up.

(a) Listeners need to take responsibility and fill up this form to get badges for both.

(b) Listeners/members need to announce who is their sponsor/who is their sponsee on this thread.

(c) Those who are following the structured activities, post on each week's structured activity thread to let us know about your participation and progress. Those who are following a more casual approach, may begin on their own pace.

Sponsee should tag sponsor ( like this - @username ) while posting anything anywhere related to this program and vice versa.

(e) Make use of the 7 Cups help guides and share with us what both of you are reading through.

(f) Post scrum reports on your weekly progress and blocks on this thread.

(g) Move to next week's activity thread, work on it together, post scrum report. Repeat until your agreed time frame for the program is over and you are both satisfied with the improvements on your sponsee’s part!

 We welcome you to be a part of this beautifully supportive program on 7 Cups and make a difference in someone's life in yet another way!

If you have any doubts and questions, or ideas and feedbacks regarding this program, please feel free to comment on the original forum post here

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