Joy in the Journey
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Joy in the Journey

Listening is Essential

Nothing important happens without first listening.

During the many blizzards and school closings we endured in northern Minne-snowta, the radio and email would announce, “No school today, essential employees only will report for work.” Hmmm. I knew that meant the people who keep the building from freezing, keep communications going, and a few key leaders. But since I was “just” a high school teacher, the message was clear. I wasn’t essential.

In challenging times and even times of relative peace, what is essential? Ask a minimalist and they’ll give you the 100 things challenge to pare down your stuff to the 100 most essential things for living. Ask a psychologist and you’ll get a list of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs including physical needs, safety, belonging and love, etc.

When it comes to everything in life driven by relationships, what is essential? At the heart of relationships is listening. Nothing else in relationships goes well for very long without listening.

  • Empathy, love, trust, peace, humility, patience, forgiveness…
  • customer service, employee relations, sales, religion, politics…
  • LEARNING (not instruction), curriculum, parent-teacher communication…
  • planning, decision making, accountability…

None of these things will have their desired impact if you do it TO or FOR the person. You have to do it WITH the person and that requires listening. We are better together and living well together depends on us listening to each other.

Life is a team sport. How are you building listening into the climate and culture of your team?



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Paul Berggren

I help people listen and learn from each other. As President of Crown Global HR, I bring clarity to growing and hiring people.