Hearing Isn’t The Same As Agreeing
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6 Ways to Optimize Performance Through Openness & Accountability

By: Ethan Schutz

An Essential Skill From Radical Collaboration®

“I don’t think you’re hearing me,” she said.

“Yes I am, but you didn’t get my point,” I said quickly.

She was right, I really hadn’t heard her. Collaborative skills are crucial to any modern business team. If we compete with one another, it is very difficult to solve problems and get work done.

I believe I’m a collaborative person, but I had spent all the time that she was talking thinking about what I would say to refute her. I wasn’t really listening to what she wanted or more importantly to why she wanted it. I knew the words, but I really didn’t understand the music—her full meaning and her feelings about why.

I didn’t agree. And that’s the key to the whole thing. Because I didn’t agree, I didn’t really listen. The consequence of that was that we went round and round with her restating her point and me refuting it over and over again.

Without even realizing it, I thought that if I really heard what she meant to the point where I could accurately feed it back to her, it would mean that I agreed with her.

But that’s not actually true.

The conversation finally shifted when I took the time to listen, not just to the words but to the music as well, and then said what I thought she meant back to her. She paused and said, “That’s it. Now you’ve gotten my point.” And that’s when I started to understand more about what she really meant and why it was important. I think she started to hear me better as well.

And that’s when we started to collaborate and have a real conversation. We got creative, and came up with a new solution that neither one of us had thought of before.

Building your collaborative skills is not the same as agreeing on everything. Collaboration starts with having real conversations, where everyone hears each other even when they don’t agree.

Start checking if you are really listening and really hearing what people are saying. Are you getting the words and the music?

It is simple, but not necessarily easy. Our Radical Collaboration program is designed to help you learn the not just the skills for real listening, but also to adopt the stance of listening, as part of five essential skills for being collaborative.