Key Point: Listening is more than just “hearing,” and a skill we’re in danger of losing in this world of digital distraction and big data overload. Stop: What do you hear right now?
By asking you what you are hearing, it causes your brain to take control of the sensory experience, and it makes you listen rather than just hear. According to scientists, that’s what happens when an event jumps out of the background enough to be perceived consciously rather than just being part of our auditory surroundings. The difference between the sense of hearing and the skill of listening is ATTENTION. How do we sharpen our attention skills so we don’t have to wait for the “big bang” noise to really listen?
When you actually pay attention to something you’re listening to, according to Seth Horowitz, an auditory neuroscientist at Brown University and the author of The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind…
“A separate ‘top-down’ pathway comes into play. Here, the signals are conveyed through a dorsal pathway in your cortex, part of the brain that does more computation, which lets you actively focus on what you’re hearing and tune out sights and sounds that aren’t as immediately important.”
Unless our hearing is impaired, it happens naturally and easily. But listening and attention are more challenging. Especially with all the additional distractions and work we put our brain through with all the BIG NOISE around us. But listening tunes our brain to the patterns of our environment faster than any other sense, and paying attention to the non-visual parts of our world feeds into everything that helps us grow our intellectual, emotional and physical capabilities. Really paying attention and listening is a huge part of the RESPECT value I talk about. In my case, when I’m in a stuck or deteriorating relationship, it is often related to me not listening as well as I might. I’m just not in the moment, present, and paying attention! The reverse is often also true; I connect with others much more and on a deeper level when I listen.
- Horowitz suggests that we can train our skills doing things like listening to different music, carefully capturing emotions attached to the harmonics in the voice of people we work with and significant others. Like everything else worth developing: Practice, practice, practice!
- Please just put the darn smartphone down, look the other person in the eye, and listen. Pay attention. If you still have the smartphone or iPad in your hands, you are likely more interested in waiting for the person to stop talking than really listening.
- Think about being at a cocktail party, when someone glazes over your shoulder for somebody “more interesting.” That’s kinda what it feels like when we aren’t paying attention and not listening.
- Remember that the best things to say during conversation will naturally come out of really listening, not loading your mouth up and waiting for the other person to stop talking.
Attention in The Triangle,
Key Point: The word “SILOS” sucks the energy out of me. I don’t know when it replaced “communication” as the default word for all that’s wrong in organizations? But it seems to be the reason people use to explain why many problems exist. What bugs me more is that if we know living exclusively in silos restricts organization flow and hurts results, why do we have such a hard time getting past this “silo hell?” Well maybe it’s because we are not skilled or practiced at developing the WE that’s necessary in crossing the chasm? Maybe looking after number one, is easier or better? Or maybe we just don’t know how to make it so?
However, as research demonstrates, and Ben/Rosamund Zander explain in their wonderful book, The Art of Possibility, something enormously creative and possible happens when we focus on US or WE as an entity. Rather than compromising on finding something between you and me, something magical happens when we create and focus on the new persona of WE.
This concept is much bolder than finding common ground between you and me. It involves a deep inquiry into what’s best for US. What if we all had this philosophy in organizations? I think we would reinvent business and organization effectiveness. Why? Because stakeholders and customers rarely care about what just you or me are able to do on our own (or departments for that matter). However, they are deeply impacted by the output of the “WE.”
- Develop a WE story; the possibility that comes out of focusing on WE as a unique entity. This can apply in the workplace and your family.
- Like the Zanders’ suggest in their book, “listen and look for the new, emerging entity.” It is a greater sum than you and I.
- Ask what the WE wants to have happen? What’s best for US?
- Identify the next steps best for the evolved entity that becomes the “WE” and progress is made.
- Celebrate milestones that belong to the “WE” versus you or me…. And breakthrough happens.
WE in the Triangle,
Key Point: BEING abundant is necessary to REALLY LIVE and BECOME ALIVE. Scarcity is the opposite. “After doing this work for the past 12 years and watching SCARCITY ride roughshod over our families, organizations and communities, I’d say we’re sick of feeling afraid… Centering on fear [and] blame… We want to be brave.”
This quote is from Brene Brown and her fabulous book Daring Greatly. How does her research relate to you and me?
Brown’s data driven insights put more definition to what I describe as “being abundant.” She emphasizes the importance of wholehearted living. This means engaging in our lives from a place of WORTHINESS! When we go to bed at night, regardless of what was done or undone, we should genuinely feel and believe we are ENOUGH; worthy of love and belonging!
There are five fundamental ideals underlying Brown’s definition of living in a wholehearted way (read her book to learn about them all). However one ideal and variable seems to take on a higher order of importance and that’s the ability to be vulnerable. It’s the core and heart of meaningful human experiences. Vulnerability does not mean weakness, however as Brown points out, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
In corporate life people are almost desperate for authenticity and putting more humanity into the work place. They want authentic leaders whose strength comes from their competence as well as their ability to be transparent and vulnerable.
- What we know is important, but WHO WE ARE matters more. How much do YOU really show up and allow yourself to be seen and vulnerable? How do you know? Find out.
- Stop anything that reinforces shame as a management tool (blame, gossiping, name calling). All are behavior cues that reinforce a scarcity mentality. Do you understand the dysfunctional role of shame? Learn more about it.
- Remember that blame is the act of discharging pain and discomfort. When we are afraid, we blame. Nothing productive comes from blame. Blame and shame ride together to promote scarcity.
- Learning how to engage (give and receive) in honest, constructive and engaged feedback is a core skill. It’s necessary for vulnerability and wholehearted abundance to thrive. How good are you at this? Get better.
- Understand the open connection between being and feeling good enough, while still being hungry and striving to grow and improve. They go together in allowing us to do what Brown calls “daring greatly.”
Watch Brown’s TED Talk: It’s 20 minutes but you’ll want to share it with people you care for.
Daring Greatly in The Triangle,
Key Point: What criteria will Americans use in choosing between reelecting President Barack Obama or voting in Mitt Romney? Research suggests that people will pick the following four attributes when asked what they want in their leader: Competence, honesty, forward thinking and inspiration. When having the ability to choose a leader, as Americans will today, I believe it comes down to the four above PLUS C and C: “Content “and “Character.”
Content essentially addresses the platform or forward thinking aspect of the candidate. Do you believe in their vision and believe the candidate can execute to make it happen? What evidence supports this?
The Character element lends itself to a candidate review against The Character Triangle criteria. The mindset, values and behavior of the candidate all ride shotgun equally with the content platform. Is the candidate self-accountable or is blame and excuse-making too often part of the agenda? How respectful is the candidate? Is deep listening, collaboration and engaging diversity to inspire the country going forward resident in the leader? How abundant is the prospective leader? Is there a belief that the resources are there to achieve a desired future state? Or is scarcity used to drive fear?
- If you’re American… Vote! And love that we can choose freely.
- If you’re not, respect that Americans will be chose a leader that honors a history and culture of incredible resilience and innovation.
- If you’re still going through the decision making process of who to vote for, apply the C and C assessment in choosing. Having a framework like The Character Triangle can be enormously helpful in evaluating and making choices .
C and C voting in The Triangle,