alchemy

So now we listen ... really listen

Column by Andrea Doray
Posted 11/12/20

The country has spoken … and what exactly was said, and by whom, will be debated for a long time. But there’s a singular message here I hope the majority of us have received: we need to listen to …

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alchemy

So now we listen ... really listen

Posted

The country has spoken … and what exactly was said, and by whom, will be debated for a long time. But there’s a singular message here I hope the majority of us have received: we need to listen to one another.

In a recent webinar I attended, host Oscar Trimboli introduced this session on “deep listening” by stating that if we’re willing to listen, we’re willing to have our minds changed.

Interesting … considering how few of us have actually seemed willing to change our minds in the last few years. Oh, I’ve listened, and not just for affirmation of my own opinions. In fact, as a writer, it’s been fascinating to witness different observations of the same events.

The problem was, most of the time, I simply didn’t like what I heard.

It’s inevitable there is more of this division to come. And amid all the talk of a “mandate” – from both sides of the aisle – there is a larger truth: that we, as citizens of one nation, need to listen to one another.

Oscar Trimboli describes “traditional discussions as default binary interactions” rather than dialogue as a shared experience of hearing, watching and exploring the landscape of the conversation.

So perhaps we’ve been unwilling – or unable – to listen to differing opinions because we’re really not engaging in this landscape of the conversation. Oscar tells us that we must understand ourselves before exploring the speaker and the dialogue.

To help facilitate this self-understanding, Oscar offered attendees a listening quiz. The premise of the quiz is that we all have our listening “villains” – by Oscar’s definitions, they are dramatic, interrupting, lost or shrewd … those traits that disrupt our ability to listen.

If you pegged me for “lost” – staying mostly in my own mind rather than in the conversation – you’re partially right. My primary villain, though (and this may not be a surprise), came out as interrupter: like an “eager game show contestant who buzzes before the sentence ends and answers the wrong question.” I know that people who’ve had conversations with me have experienced this interrupter, or else they’ve found that I avoid the discussion or simply don’t engage … that “unwilling” part.

We all have our listening villains, whether they are among these that Oscar has identified, or those that are unique to us. In fact, last week I heard John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio, say, “If everyone could listen and think, this country could come together.”

America, my friends and neighbors, we must engage, we must listen, we must be willing to think. There’s too much at stake.

No, I don’t mean we must embrace what is contemptible to us. But we could learn – again – to listen to one another, to have a sincere desire for dialogue, to explore conversation as a genuine means for reconciliation. Because, as Oscar reminds us, the cost of not listening is obvious.

Interestingly, Oscar’s deep listening guidance was developed for use in business and the workplace, and it’s become increasingly clear to me that we have significant work ahead, not the least of which is controlling a pandemic of devastating proportions. We all must begin to listen and think … because I can’t imagine anything more important right now than the business of healing this country.

Andrea Doray is a writer who keeps apologizing for her interruptions. Contact her at a.doray@andreadoray.com if you would like the instructions to make your own mini-heater.

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