On a particularly snowy afternoon I found myself overlooking an expert trail on top of a little ski area in Vermont named Round Top (since closed). The snow had been falling most of the day which resulted in many of the skiers packing up their gear and heading home. Along with my two companions I decided to stay and enjoy the fresh snow covered trails, now almost completely empty. If necessary we could always get hotel rooms and wait out the storm.
Empathic Listening Can Be Learned
Ever wonder if people see you as a good listener? Or, conversely do you see yourself as a good listener? You’d be surprised at how many people think they are good listeners yet the opposite view is held by the people who know them.
I’m fairly sure most of us grew up hearing the old refrain “pay attention” or maybe it was another childhood favorite “mind what you’re doing.” And depending on what part of the world you grew up in I’m sure you heard a few other gems whose goal was to get you to stop fidgeting or giving into distractions. Now many years later companies all over the world are encouraging their employees to avoid distractions and stop fidgeting, though hopefully they are not including the dreaded finger wagging with their suggestion.
Randomly visit any company headquarters and once in the front door you’ll feel a low level drum beat extolling Employee Cooperation. Look around for a moment and you’ll see banners hanging from the ceiling with pithy sayings about cooperation and teamwork, upon closer look you may see plaques listing Team of the Month or Cooperation Stars of the Month. Offices and cubicles will be adorned with cartoons, quotes and bobble heads all affirming the power of cooperation among employees.
Often I run into people who use cooperation and collaboration interchangeably. And while an agreement to work together is certainly desirable, confusing cooperation with collaboration can quickly lead to a project falling apart.
Cooperation is like a group of islands that are friendly with each other, they share ideas and resources with each other when they can, but even though they are sharing and communicating they are not working together on a shared big picture.
In business you rarely (if ever) see a memo from the CEO directing management to Use Synchronicity to increase creativity and innovation. It’s possible such a memo would cause the board or maybe the employee council to stage a revolt. Synchronicity got a bad rap in the 60’s and 70’s when it became synonymous with everything from hippies to new-age mysticism. If we fast-forward to the businesses today we’ll see more of them embracing alternative ways of motivating management and employees with such tools as mindfulness and team building exercises, so it may be the perfect time to add synchronicity to the mix.
From a young age I can remember being curious about the people I saw in pictures meditating and more specifically about meditation practice itself.
I’m not sure where this curiosity sprouted from, maybe it was all the incense and Latin mystery I was exposed to growing up in the Catholic church or maybe it was the art books in the school library that excited something in me as I leafed through block prints from the faraway Japan and China. Whatever sparked this curiosity I was determined to go about learning meditation or at the very least learn more about it.
While thinking about Active Listening the other day there was a knock at the back door and at first I thought it must be a package delivery, but it was my next thought that got my gears churning.
What was the thought that pushed all other thoughts off the stage? My thinking pointed itself to this thought, when we speak with another person we are in effect knocking on their door of perception we are asking them to open up, we are asking them in effect to focus on the bits and pieces streaming from our minds to enter into their mind for consideration.