Focus on Listening by Restating

Over the past two weeks I have been revisiting listening, a skill I examined in a blog post a year ago. Listening is critical for productive group problem solving. Two weeks ago, I wrote about quieting our minds so we can focus on the person speaking. Last week, I explored behaviors that we can adopt to both support our focus and encourage the speaker to speak by showing a listening posture. This week, I submit … Read more…

Focus on Listening with Responsive Behavior

Since August, I have been sharing key practices for joining with others to productively address complex problems we face in our lives.  Just over a year ago, I wrote about listening and its value in problem solving.  Listening is such an important skill to bring to our work with others that last week and over the next few weeks I am giving attention to four characteristics of good listening. In addition to quieting oneself to … Read more…

Focus on Listening by Choosing Appropriate Behaviors

Since August, I have been sharing key practices for joining with others to tackle the complex problems we face in our lives at work and in our communities.  A year ago, I spent time exploring specific skills that support those practices.  One of those skills is listening.  Listening is such an important skill to bring to our work with others that over the next four weeks I want to give attention again to four characteristics … Read more…

Agreeing or Disagreeing ≠ Listening

When Roger James and I teach listening skills, we ask people to look at a list of “non-listening behaviors.” The list includes thirteen actions including the usual culprits of interrupting, advising or persuading, and pseudo-questions (“Don’t you think that…?”) When we ask people if there are any surprises on the list they invariably ask why “agreeing or disagreeing” is on the list of non-listening behaviors. Here’s why. When you listen you are trying to understand … Read more…

Cultural Corrosion

What are we to make of the horrifying events of last week? Two black men killed by two police officers and five police officers killed by one black man. Are there any words or gestures that are adequate or meaningful in the face of this increasingly destructive spiral of fear, anger and violence? New York Times Columnist Charles Blow wrote, “We must see all unwarranted violence for what it is: A corrosion of culture.” Perhaps the … Read more…

What’s Compassion Got To Do With It?

Tina Turner’s 1984 Grammy Song of the Year asks “What’s love got to do with it?” It turns out that compassion—an element of love—has everything to do with how we talk with one another. Is it a “second-hand” emotion as the song suggests? Compassion might sound like a surprising, even unnecessary, element in meetings. However, to solve complex issues, we need to converse and build relationships with people who have different life experiences and points … Read more…

“Go-To” Skill #1: Listening

Listening is the most underutilized and essential element there is for meaningful conversation. It is good for whatever ails any meeting. Although it does not cure a common cold, it does prevent misunderstandings, strengthen relationships, and help people clarify their thinking. So, why don’t we listen more deeply and more often? Among many possible reasons, three stand out: tit for tat behavior, fear, and lack of skill. “Tit for tat” or “you aren’t listening to … Read more…

Choose Your Contribution to the Future

I recently read this on a poster in the contemplative Santa Sabina Center in San Rafael, California where I spent six days on an Embodied Life™ retreat with Russell Delman. While there, I continued my decades long reflection and investigation into how we contribute to the circumstances out of which our future does take shape each time we interact with others at home, at work, and in our communities. Everyday we discover more about the human … Read more…