Listening and Talking are Harder Than They Seem

Port-to-Port Consulting has an all day retreat every year on Martin Luther King Jr Day. Each year, I try to focus the day on a theme that seems to be important to our ability to move forward. This year’s theme was one of values. We worked from the “me” perspective to the ‘us” perspective to the “them” perspective. One cannot communicate successfully if one doesn’t know from where he starts and from where the person to whom he communicates starts as well. Most of us don’t think much about our lens on the world or how it determines what we notice and how we respond to it. Prejudice carries so much baggage as a term that we can’t accept that we all have them. Without knowing that, they get in the way more often.Listener

Our group starting out with a look at the Kiersey Type Sorter, which gave an idea of how we personally approach the world. Then we talked about the difference and similarities among us as a group, and how that impacts the way we talk to one another. We followed that with a review of the Gallup Strengths Finder on each of us. Using the top five strengths to have a similar discussion. Next we extrapolated our new learning to our customers to see how might assess their starting places when we talk with them.

I wrapped those two things into the elements that make up our core values then we discussed the company’s core values and found that some didn’t feel as if we were living up to them. I acknowledged that we need to strive for better expression of our values and that I have first responsibility to be sure that happens.

I left at the end of the day with great concern that several of the talented people on my staff were going to start searching for new jobs. When I arrived at work the next morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that everyone was thinking about the ways in which we can communicate better. We discovered that listening and talking are much harder than they seem at first.


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