The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Listen. Please Listen.

On May 8th, 2017, posted in: Just Because, Uncategorized by

listen spelled in scrabble tilesDr. Stephen Covey, best known for the best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is also noted for saying something that may be the crux of the problem in the world today. I’ll narrow that down some — it’s probably the issue at hand in our country for sure. It shows up in at least two places: on college campuses and certainly as a prevailing concern in business.

Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply.”  Nice work, Mr. Covey. That, sir, is spot on. Does anybody listen to anybody else — I mean really listen? Answer honestly.

So I’m going to lay some blame at the feet of social media denizens. It is a medium that has been actively eroding our caring and compassion for one another — including dignified social interaction. Generally speaking, the art of perfecting “social skills” has taken a nose dive. Everyone talks at one another in sound bites. No one speaks with or listens to each other anymore. And because of our ability to disguise our disregard for our fellow human being behind a mouse and a hashtag, we let the harshness fly without ever listening to the other side of the story. Tolerance — what tolerance?

We’re a society where everybody is in a group. So when people are not in your group, humanity is not your brother or sister anymore.  As a result, we eliminate ideas, thoughts, concerns, considerations and the opportunity to learn. I have disagreed with many that I love more than life itself. I have found that moral leanings are a much better barometer for making decisions about with whom I hang than which group they choose to associate.

The workplace is a melting pot. People of diverse backgrounds, ideologies, economic strata, and a host of other differences come together to pull in the same direction for the success of their corporate culture and workplace. Spending most of your waking hours with the people you work with demands effective listening skills. To paraphrase Dr. Covey, “Listen. Please listen.”

Somewhere in my DNA, I was blessed with a desire to learn something every day. For that reason, I listen to everyone intently. When someone is done speaking with me, I may not agree, but I have listened intently without readying my response. The truth be known, most of my “great ideas” are polished and smoothed by the input of others. Listening does that. It helps to form better ideas, or maybe it helps to strengthen the convictions of your current mindset. Heck, it even allows for you to throw out what was an original thought and start all over. You can’t do that if you’re in a “group.”

College campuses that refuse to listen to opposing ideas is frightening on many fronts, not the least of which is that these young people will come into the workforce shortly and will need to be able to listen to many things that aren’t perfect and don’t align with what may be their rather narrow beliefs. Be on the lookout. The discussion is usually led by a person better known by the term “boss.”

Practice listening without readying a reply. You might learn something. I do every day.

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