Titled leaders and employees are happier and more successful when they learn how to have discussions that include deep listening and truth telling. A failure to do either one equals missed opportunities for learning and growth. (This is also true for family and community members.)
As a result, I’ve been encouraging listening, thinking, and dialogue with increasing frequency and leveraging current events as examples of how we can do this.
As you watch the news, are you ever so aware of the pain and the division in our world that it is hard to think about anything else?
Recently in my home country:
- A woman was set on fire because of her faith.
- Two other women were punched because of their faith.
- Bombs were set off and people were stabbed for their faith.
- A man was killed because of the color of his skin.
- Several men were killed because of the uniform they wear.
Some have responded with fear and hate for everyone that is not like them.
Others deny that any problem exists and encourage blind acceptance.
Do we really have only two options???
As the news about Orlando, and yet another hate crime swirls around us….
What are you seeing? What are you hearing? What are you pondering? What are you praying for?
Typically after events like this I invest major amounts of energy reading the news and contemplating the opinions and the blame game that follows.
I’ve been working with a group of pre and early teens and we’ve been talking about perceptions and reality. In our last meeting, I asked if they have ever greeted someone and not been greeted in return. Emphatically – yes!
So I broke them up into small groups and asked them to come up with a list of at least 15 reasons why someone they greeted would not respond.
At first they listed things like this:
- They hate me
- They are mean
- They are rude
- They are a bully
- They are racist
It took awhile for them to start coming up with reasons like this:
When my husband said we were asked to move to a giant sandbox on the other side of the world my stomach churned so hard I had to sit down.
How was this possible? We said we would go ANYWHERE in the world except – THERE! Scenes from movies and the news melded with my own fears and questions were fired off so rapidly my husband could not reply.
A “yes” wasn’t possible if I could not change my thinking:
- From the losses to the possible gains.
- From the challenges to the possible opportunities.
- From fear to faith.
In 1999 I read Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the first time. One of the stories in that book that captured my attention was about David Lilienthal, a man that was commissioned to head the new Atomic Energy Commission.
He brought together a very diverse bunch of influential individuals. And although they had a huge agenda and the press was pushing them for results he believed that efficiency was not the first priority – synergy was. So he wisely invested time facilitating relationship building, causing them to deeply understand each other’s history, goals, passions, and perspectives and transforming a group of individuals into a passionate team.
This is how Stephen Covey describes the result: “The respect among the members of the commission was so high that if there was disagreement, instead of opposition and defense, there was a genuine effort to understand. The attitude was, “If a person of your intelligence and competence and commitment disagrees with me, then there must be something to your disagreement that I don’t understand, and I need to understand it. You have a perspective, a frame of reference I need to look at.”