There is What is Said…. and There is What You Hear

…a path to connect the two

(please read through to see a new special tool we have for you!)

Prince Harry and lovely wife Meghan have left the Kingdom… as unimaginable as if Mickey and Minnie got pissed and left Disney.

Apparently, this was a reaction to feeling poorly treated, disregarded, dominated, and discriminated against. A reaction to having their voices stifled… those voices are now speaking out, with potentially significant consequences.

This is a common situation in pretty much every organization we have worked within. In our work with executives, we routinely coach them to take the time to check in with their people, and see what they are doing, so they have greater opportunity to acknowledge or appreciate their teams or employees. We find acknowledgement is one of the most powerful and impactful things a leader can do to encourage engagement and higher performance.

A simple, yet very effective way to have people feel appreciated is to listen to what they have to say.  

There are two ways you can listen. You can listen from Self, or you can listen from Other.

If you listen from Self, you are listening to your internal dialogue…do I agree, disagree, care, believe it, or am I just waiting to get my point in? 

If you are listening from Other, you are listening for their intent, what’s important to them and how you can contribute.  

I recently read something from a friend of Momentum, who is an executive of the Civil Rights Division of a state agency. He wrote this for his own team. It was moving to me and worth sharing. 

He was dealing with a client over a claim investigation. And although it was favorable to the client, she was irate, yelling over the phone.  All of his efforts to placate her anger failed until he finally heard what she was really reacting to. 

I am including the part of his message that is relevant here.

“…but then she really got angry saying, “But you put their words on paper, as if it were true, and my words are missing.” “My words are missing!”. 

         “Here we are, deploying a motto of promoting dignity at home and in the workplace (italics mine), but even though this investigation was very near text-book perfect, she felt that her dignity, her self-respect which she worked hard to achieve, and I am certain to build, had been impugned. Her good name had been besmirched.  It was an affront to her honor and decency.

            And then, it hit me.  You’ve been talking to two different people.  You’ve spent most of the hour talking to the Mrs. Smith that is on the surface.  It is a hard shell. It had to be.  Unable to draw upon the dignity of work, she built a thick veneer of a woman that knew the law and what the law entitled her to receive. She built a veneer of “I might be poor, but I will demand to be treated with respect and dignity.”  I had been speaking to the one that had to fight like all get-out (sorry, my East Texas is showing) to raise her kids in an atmosphere of protection, love and self-respect that she had never had (again, italics mine).  In short, Mrs. Smith, the surface-level, is with whom I had been speaking. 

            But we all have two different versions of ourselves, if we are truly honest and take a quiet moment to dig and find him or her or they.  For some, there is an outer shell that says nothing can hurt me, I’ve made it all on my own, and doggonit, I’m good enough and I am a complete success.  It says that everything will work out – despite the circumstances and conditions.  That person is idealized, and for most, always on display.  It’s skin-deep but tough as titanium armor.  It’s the self that makes it to work after a flat tire, a drained battery or feeling a knot in our shoulder or back and responds to everyone that asks, “Good morning” and smiles.  That is one self in all of us.

            Yet still, there is another us.  It is the Me that says, ‘maybe you don’t have what it takes to win.’  It’s the ME that can get their feelings hurt when you do everything for a customer, and they tell you that “You’re a joke and I have no idea how you ever passed the bar.” 

Without question, it is the Mrs. Smith that has dealt with a lifetime of difficulty, self-doubt, lack of assurance, far too little nurture and much too much nature imposing itself upon her life.  It is the Mrs. Smith that is quietly inside saying that I’m vulnerable, but I am going to hide behind the safety of the well-crafted and thick outer veneer that comes from years of taking hard knocks.

            I stopped Mrs. Smith in mid-sentence and mid-thought, and I said, “I’m sorry.”  “I feel your pain and I can see your struggle.”  Ten minutes later, after speaking to the real Mrs. Smith, she thanked me…The Mrs. Smith that had been sheltered by that veneer that would have protected SuperMan was exposed and finally heard…”

How much of the rage in the world is a result of feeling one’s voice has been silenced?

Perhaps the highest appreciation we can give someone is to give ear to their voice.  When you and I feel heard, our whole mood and being shifts.  We are returned to ourselves and want to do more. Our job as leaders, or just humans, is to listen from “Other” and give people their voice….or we can just keep replacing the people who are leaving the kingdom and deal with what they are saying when they do.


PS: We have a NEW tutorial we would love to gift you on the topic of “Listening from Self OR Listening from Other.” If you would like to be one of the first to get this new tool, send Carrie (our admin) an email and put “I’m Listening!” in the subject line. She will personally send you this new tool. We would love to gift it to you!

Fundamental #20: APPRECIATE AND ACKNOWLEDGE  Let people know your appreciation for the qualities that they possess.  Being acknowledged for a task well done is important, being acknowledged for a character quality is lasting.

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