Heard – Seen – Respected a great way to build Trust

In Collaboration, facilitation, Inspiring, Liberating Structures, Passion, Self-Organization by chuzzeteLeave a Comment

During our second LS meeting at the workplace, we used Heard-Seen-Respected to help us experience empathy by practicing listening without trying to fix anything or make any judgements between Colleagues. Then I had the chance to practice it, during a LS Immersion Workshop here in Montreal. This post is the result of what emerged from both experiences, what was surprising, structured and liberated, and some tips that could be at help when using this LS.


We start our LS meetings sitting in a circle of chairs without tables. I have started doing that in purpose to show participants the importance of how the space is arranged.

After that, I introduced the LS title and purpose which was

Purpose: Experience empathy by practicing listening without trying to fix anything or make any judgements between Colleagues.

and then went through the sequence of steps and time allocation, something like this:

  1. Find a partner and prepare for one person to share a story. Sit knee-to-knee in a quiet space. (2 mins)
  2. First person shares their story. (5 mins)
    • When listening, don’t try to fix anything. 
    • Only ask questions if needed (e.g., what else, go on, tell me more)
  3. Switch. (5 mins)
  4. Debrief as a pair. (7 mins)

Before starting, we went pretty quick through some HSR notes:

  • Practice Quiet Presence, listening but not responding.
  • Keep the stories confidential. Try to focus on describing the situation, not blaming the other others
  • Storytellers – Don’t tell the hardest one!

Then I invited story tellers to prepare to share a story by answering to the following invitation:

Share a story of a time when you were NOT heard, seen, or respected at the workplace”

What was surprising?

We were a group of 5 people, in a squared room with big windows. I didn’t participate to the exercise so there were 2 pairs formed.

The room was in silence for the first two minutes, and I noticed that one participant was having a hard time staying in silence, making some jokes and laughing for the first 30 seconds but then he stopped.

Once story tellers started talking, something beautiful happened. Listeners got really into it, and you could how interested they were to the stories they were listening, all in active listening mode.

One of them, went into coaching mode by trying to rephrase what the story teller was saying. I got surprised by the fact that, once the time to shift roles arrived, he asked to validate if he was doing it right, when participants invited him respectfully to avoid doing that and just listen the story teller. That was beautiful to watch.

What was liberated?

My partner during the exercise told me he felt it was the first time we was able to speak his mind with a colleague and talk that openly about something personal, with that level of connection. I felt his pain when he was saying that!

I can describe it as a loving, touching tans deep human being connecting with each other. Like I said in my previous article about the Mad Tea Party, it was again a powerful moment of humanity, deeply connected through love and care.

Tips and tricks

The main thing for me to be considered when working with a group of people, using LS like this one is psychological safety.

Tip: when animating the exercise It works for me to stay calm and speak slowly, with an appropriate voice tone accordingly to the situation. In this case, you are going to discuss about respect and people’s feelings are going to emerge so stay in tune with that.

Tip: being present, active listening and putting us in a proactive observation mode, would ease the process, help you increase psychological safety and empathize with people’s feelings and moods.

Call to action

  • Did you find what I wrote appealing and want to see more?
  • Would you like to experience the surprising power of the #LiberatingStructures?

Here some options that I have prepared for you to keep us growing together:

All the best,


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