In a Facebook post, someone added a quote about the power of words. In an article yesterday, I said that words had no power at all. The real power comes from how you listen. The author of the post disagreed. He said that this takes responsibility away from the speaker.
Communication isn’t just the speaker’s responsibility
Being responsible for how you listen takes no responsibility away from the speaker. The speaker’s job is to provide good stuff to listen to. The speaker is 100% responsible for the communication and its delivery.
The listener is also 100% responsible for the communication. The listener is 100% responsible for being receptive and getting value out of it. The listener is responsible for how it lands. You can shirk that responsibility, sure. Or you can try to master it. In fact, if you get good at taking responsibility for your listening, you’ll be amazed at what you begin to hear.
Another myth is that the responsibility is 50/50. Do you know how, in a marriage, 50/50 doesn’t work? It’s true in communication, too. Being half-listening rarely works well. Often it doesn’t work at all.
Listen for value from a lousy speech
It pertains to encouragement, too. Listen for people’s contribution and then acknowledge it. Listen for what kind of feedback or belief or tolerance or connection or help or training an employee is looking (or listening) for. Tune in to what’s stressing them and relieve that.
“The speaker is responsible” is a myth from the age of television
Granted, this is a different way of thinking than is usual for our culture. Especially in politics, the usual subject of this blog, we’re ready to hear blame or assign blame at every moment. We have deep-seated feelings about people and who’s at fault and our brains are ready to attack or defend in a moment.
You can be responsible for how you listen, for your whole experience
Try to be responsible for having all those triggers and for believing them. When your mind is triggered and produces an angry thought, try to react like your mind was triggered rather than something external is to blame for making you angry. Sure, none of us wants to think the negativity is coming from us. But all minds do that. Your experience can be your own choice.
Negative thoughts come up like there’s really negative stuff out there. People seem to be stupid, close-minded and limited. But then I listen for something positive, and it’s there, too.
Maybe I’m more sensitive to this stuff because PeopleCount is communicating a counter-cultural truth. It’s a truth about political accountability that our culture is blind to. It takes exceptional listening that few have been able to bring without coaching. And that’s okay.