Volume 12.3 – Extreme Listening


In this stressful time, it is not easy to quieten down and listen to our colleagues at work, or to ourselves, or even to God. The consequences of not listening are further stress and a flight to ‘basic needs’. The answer is to listen to hear, not to listen to respond.

The economy is making a noise. Plenty of noise if you believe the headlines. A newspaper hoarding this morning read: City to lose 2000 jobs. House prices down £30 000. In October there seemed to be more noise every day. Black Monday moved from a ten yearly event to a daily fact. Robert Peston was on the BBC 24/7.

In this climate it is tempting to react by shifting to survival mode. We need to make more money, keep what we have safe, protect our teams, nurture our customers and save ourselves. At a middle management level, pushiness seems to be valued although it can lead to selfdestruction. In a bid to survive, we can lose the ability to listen – to anything. In a culture of diversity where many managers are already afraid to listen and acknowledge the stories of their teams through fear of saying the wrong thing, the workplace can become a place full of people playing their own story in their own heads with all the risks that involves of inventing myths and causing conflict and division.

The cost of not being listened to can force employees inside their own heads where their list of priorities and things to do is joined by the clamour of uncertainty, survivor guilt, ideas, worries, plans and fears. That fullness means that there is no longer any space to listen to themselves either. It can also have physical manifestations through stress and anxiety. This is not new. Jesus told Martha, who was ‘worried and distracted by many things’, to slow down and listen (Luke 10: 38-42). If the minds of the workforce are being slowed down by a lack of listening, what effect is that having on the economy? This is a self-perpetuating problem. If I’m not being listened to and have stopped listening to myself, and to God, then I am also losing the ability to listen to others. No wonder James encouraged the twelve tribes across the nations to be ‘quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry’ (James 1: 18-20).

I’ve been working in the NHS this week training managers to listen…

The full article is available to download here<!– 1516742010536 –>