by Randy Lisk
I don't think listening is lost, but perhaps it is misplaced and hard to find. It certainly is not in vogue on talk radio or in congress.
Many conversations are held at the debate or discussion level. In this case there is mostly advocacy and little inquiry, with two sides defending their positions - may the loudest person win. Not much new gets generated - no innovation.
This is as much a systemic problem with the way those conversations are held as it is a personal problem with those attending.
When we teach groups the skills of dialogue, where there is a balance of advocating your position and inquiring into the other person's position, with the intention of coming up with the best solution rather than being right, then the necessary listening to understand, rather than listening to respond, appears.
We suggest participants listen for the scope, significance and possibility in the other person's comments, rather than listening for the flaw.
This type of conversation improves the trust and respect within the group, so that deeper dialogue becomes possible over time.
Stephen Covey's fifth habit is good advice: seek first to understand, then be understood.
Owner / Partner at Lisk Associates, LLC
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