Effective Communication and Active Listening

Effective Communication and Active Listening
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2024-02-01
Unit 1 Presentation Materials: Effective Communication and Active Listening
Unit 2 Transcript: Effective Communication and Active Listening
Unit 3 Workbook: Effective Communication and Active Listening
Unit 4 Recording: Effective Communication and Active Listening

Mastering effective communication stands as a cornerstone for success in both personal and professional realms. This webinar goes into the art and science of communication, teaching approaches to enhance both verbal and non-verbal communication skills through active listening to foster understanding and empathy.

Leading the discussion is Joe Smarro, the founder and CEO of SolutionPoint+. Joe’s experience came from two tours to Afghanistan and Iraq with the United States Marine Corps and serving the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) where he pioneered its Mental Health Unit. He is also one of the main subjects in HBO’s ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS and featured in multiple media outlets including the TEDx talk “I See You”.

Points highlighted in this webinar include:

  • The importance of effective communication and active listening in business, relationships, and our lives in general.
  • Differentiating hearing from listening and how daily distractions diminish our ability to truly listen instead of just hearing.
  • How our brain chemistry is impacted by the amount of content we’re exposed to in the modern world and how this influences our ability to focus and engage with others.
  • The elements of effective communication particularly in the policing setting and in crisis situations.
    • The three parts of communication and how body language and tone, carry more weight in communication than the words spoken.
    • The value in creating a safe space and letting the person in crisis vent and for the interventionist to validate their feelings.
    • The 80-20 rule in crisis intervention that emphasizes that the person intervening listen more than they speak and promote empathy and understanding.
  • A rundown of communication skills to learn, develop, and practice to facilitate better interactions with persons in crisis.
    • Emotional labeling: The formula to effectively do this and the importance of holding space after which.
    • Effective pause: Practicing purposeful silence to get the person to share their thoughts and feelings.
    • Utilizing open-ended questions to encourage more dialogue, elicit a story, and prompt the person to elaborate.
    • Paraphrasing: How to effectively paraphrase and how doing so demonstrates effective listening skills.
    • Injecting minimal encouragers within the conversation to provide validation and demonstrate that you are paying attention.
    • Reflective mirroring: What this looks like and how it subconsciously urges the person in crisis to keep sharing and talking.
    • Using “I messages” instead of “You messages” that creates boundaries in the conversation and prevents defensiveness.
  • Why it is not recommended to tell people how they’re feeling, avoid stacking questions, and not use one skill consecutively.
  • How the essence of effective communication lies in making others feel valued, seen, and validated by listening more, extending kindness, and reflecting on how we contribute to a situation’s outcome.

Topics covered during the Q&A are on:

  • Balancing time and connection in crisis situations.
  • Techniques to politely and empathetically end or pause conversations.
  • Empathy vs. sympathy and why it is better to prioritize empathy over sympathy in interactions.
  • References and reading materials to enhance understanding of de-escalation, crisis intervention, and communication skills.
  • Strategies to ensure that the receiver understands the message being conveyed as intended.


Other Webinars with this Organization

  • Nov 30: Why CIT?
  • Feb 1: Effective Communication and Active Listening (this webinar)


Click here to view and register for other upcoming Law Enforcement webinars and recordings on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “I loved all the ways of communication conveyed that made things not threatening when working through a conflict. The active listening tips were good as well.”
  • “Justice Clearinghouse always provides informative webinars on a wide variety of topics. Today I learned to not define someone’s feelings for them and to pause to allow them time to respond.”
  • “Excellent presentation with a knowledgeable speaker who truly cares about both the listener and receiver of the information.”
  • “Great webinar! this is the best description of active listening I’ve ever heard. I’ve heard it defined in the past but didn’t really know how to apply it. this is really useful! Thanks!!”
  • “The presenter was great and moved through content at an appropriate pace and level. Poll questions are always great. Look forward to more topics by the presenter.”
  • “One of the best webinars to date! Valuable information for employment and personal communications.”
  • “Awesome presentation. The presenter was great and so was the information!!”
  • “I absolutely love this presentation. Looking forward to the next one. I also loved how he was ready for our questions and even had a reading list prepared just in case we had questions.”
  • “Wonderful webinar, outstanding instructor! Would definitely benefit from another webinar on this topic.”
  • “Joe was awesome! Thank you so much for all the tips. Great reminders with a fresh perspective and new insights!”
  • “Joe was great. Engaging and informative and has the anecdotes to back his information.”
  • “Wonderful webinar!!!! Very interesting, and informative. The most valuable thing I learned from this webinar was the way I communicate with others can escalate or de-escalate a situation.
  • “This was a wonderful presentation. The speaker was knowledgeable, a good sense of humor. I really recommend having him return for a more advanced class.”
  • “This was one of the best webinars I have seen on Justice Clearinghouse. Thank you!”
  • “Extremely relevant topic in the CJ field today and actually many fields of employment. I like the specific “hands-on” material Joe presented (ex. open-ended questions to ask).”
  • “The instructor was well-versed on the subject matter. He paced the training appropriately and shared relevant and valuable information. I have actually taught a variety of communication skills lessons to young people, so I had a decent foundation in the subject matter and still found the lesson insightful and valuable.”
  • “This was one of, if not the best, trainings I have participated in regarding active listening skills. The presenter was engaging and very knowledgeable about the subject matter.”




This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.




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