Listening to messages you don’t necessarily want to hear

These notes are a compilation of notes taken by Jim Kerlin, my own notes, and my impressions.  They are only a breif highlight of the rich conversation that took place at the Servant-Leader roundtable held on Thursday, January 28th.

 

Topic for the day:  Listening to messages you don’t necessarily want to hear.

The catalyst for this roundtable topic was a recent experience of racist leaning comments heard in a conversation.    In listening to the comments (posted on an electronic neighborhood bulletin board) Dan felt compelled to respond while recognizing the need to be sensitive to the very real fears of his neighbors.

Our conversation explored the following:

  • What we see is based upon our experiences.
  • It is hard not to be influenced by our past.
  • It is far easier to recognize my own truth than someone else’s truth.
  • Being in a role of authority can be a barrier to listening.
  • As a mentor it is necessary to listen deeply and guide lightly.
  • As a parent it can be hard to observe the decision processes of teenagers without stifling the growth than can only come through experience.
  • It can be a challenge to ensure that those we Sheppard are not mislead by the frustration we may experience with them as an indicator of a lack of commitment to stand by their side.

Things we learned from each other:

  • Listening with EMPATHY is the key to active listening.
  • When we are in a role of authority, telling it like it is can seem dictatorial.
  • We can use tools (chalkboard, whiteboard, post-its, etc) to post the ideas that are on the table without passing judgment.
  • There is a need to humbly recognize what buttons/triggers may result in negative responses min ourselves and others.
  • Be “present” in the conversation.  There is an inverse relationship between the amount of time we spend “covering your ass-ets (CYA)” and the about of direct communication that takes place.
  • Exclamations such as “ouch” or “yikes” can be used to convey the fact that the speaker is communicating in potentially offensive/aggressive terms.  The goal is to defuse the situation.
  • Recognizing what other people are saying may or may not lead to other things that they are including in their thought process.
  • Leaders want the truth.  We need to make it safe for people to tell us the truth.  It’s like lying to your doctor:  it is not beneficial if your lawyer, doctor, leader or peer only has a partial picture of what is going on.
  • Finishing each-other’s sentences is pervasive in business.  The most effective leaders are those that do not try to get ahead of the conversation or try to speed it up.
  • Be careful trying to be funny in text, email or social media.  Messages can be taken quite literally.
  • We need to think about sub-text when we are speaking. 

Ladder of Inference:

Organizational psychologist Chris Argyris developed the ladder of inference as a way of illustrating the process of moving from observation to action.  In conversation, we can only observe the action of someone speaking to us.  We need to intentionally pursue an understanding of what lead to that action.

The Ladder of Inference climbs the following steps:

  • We observe things
  • Select what to pay attention to
  • Make meanings and assumptions
  • Draw conclusions
  • Adopt beliefs
  • Take actions

For more information go to:  https://www.solonline.org/?tool_ladder_of_infer

If you are reading these notes via social media you can click the link to sign up for the Servant-Leader Milwaukee mailing list.

Copyright 2016, Dan Lococo.  All rights reserved.

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Author: Dan Lococo

I am a whole person called to engage with others as they realize their own wholeness. Service is the act of engaging with others on their journey to realizing their own wholeness. (December, 2013)

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