About Graceful Listening

No matter what your role, the skills you will learn in Graceful Listening will help you improve your relationships.

It all starts with four simple skills that come out of counseling research but are also mentioned as attributes of Love in the Bible:

Genuineness: Real, Authentic, and Open to others

Respect: Every person carries the image of God and has eternal worth. 

Empathy: Accurately understanding other people’s ideas and feelings. Patient attention. 

Warm Kindness: Friendly, Liking, Sensitive

You can have a similar impact on those you love and care for. In this course, you will build on the skills you already have and learn to relate to others in a transformative and graceful way.

The course is a combination of pre-recorded lectures and practical applications along with additional videos and articles to expand learning and for those who want to dig deeper into the content.

There are 5 modules that start with short video presentations by Dr. Gary Sweeten. Each presentation is followed by an application.

In addition to the core teaching by Dr. Sweeten, resources by other experts are included to nurture your growth.

  • Transcripts and audio are provided for each video presentation.
  • A printable or fillable PDF workbook is provided for each student.
  • Students self-monitor their own progress by checking weekly completion boxes.
  • Completion certificates will be awarded upon course completion.
  • This and other courses on Relational Peace University are available to be taken with a private group such as a small group or bible study. Contact hello@relationalpeace.org to inquire about group pricing.
Watch Intro Video

Watch preview lesson

Adverse Advise

About the Instructor

Gary Sweeten

Founder - Sweeten Life Systems, Relational Peace University

If you want to know the origins of Relational Peace University, you can look at my fifty-year career as a counselor and educator. When I was a child, I liked school because I could help my friends with their lessons — and also because school was the only place in our little Illinois town where I could be with so many kids. That love of school led me to become a teacher and a coach — so I could teach kids and still play games with them. When I had still been a student in a community college, my favorite teacher was also a counselor, and that seemed like a wonderful job. So after a few years of teaching at the elementary and junior-high levels, I went back to graduate school and earned a master’s degree in Counseling and College Student Personnel. With that degree, I worked for several years at the University of Cincinnati as an associate dean and an assistant vice provost, and I also used my time at UC to earn a doctoral degree in Counselor Education. Armed with that degree, I left academia to become the Minister of Christian Education at Cincinnati’s College Hill Presbyterian Church. After a short time in that role, though, I became aware of families in the congregation who were in distress, and that changed the trajectory of my career. I used my counseling background to equip lay people in the congregation with the skills to informally counsel troubled people. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the “holistic” materials I developed for that effort were about forty years ahead of the innovation curve. Over the ensuing years, I founded Equipping Ministries International (EMI) to teach church and community organizations how to replicate my work. I also founded Sweeten Life Systems to promote “A Lifetime of Great Relationships” all over the world. My materials have been used in 85 countries, and I personally got to set up training centers in Norway, Denmark, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, and China. My book, Listening for Heaven’s Sake, has been translated into several languages, and it’s sold over two million copies. Now at the apex of my career, I’ve been thrilled to launch Relational Peace University as a way to encapsulate my life’s work in a format that will reach new generations. Since 1961, my closest partner in all of these ministries has been my wife Karen. We now live in Mason, Ohio, and we have two adult children, plus four grandchildren.

Course curriculum

  • 1


    • Welcome and Tips for Success

    • Download the Graceful Listening Workbook

    • Overview

    • Communication Barriers

    • Genuine Love

    • Build Trust: Johari Window

  • 2

    Warm Kindness

    • Relate with Warm Kindness

    • Three Ways to Communicate Warm Kindness


  • 3

    Empathic Listening

    • Intro to Empathic Listening

    • Empathic Listening and Reflecting

    • Empathic Responses

  • 4


    • Interact with Respect

    • Problem Ownership

    • Who Owns the Monkey?

  • 5

    Launching Listeners

    • Emotional Response Cycle

    • Respond According to the Type of Request

    • Decipher Mixed Messages with Role Play

    • Bridge Opposing Viewpoints with Listening

  • 6


    • PDF Download and Save Instructions

    • Graceful Listening Quick Reference Guide

    • Expanded Learning

  • 7


    • Note from Dr. Sweeten

    • Exit Evaluation