October 2011

Creative Communication: Learning to Listen, Part 2

In our last segment, we began to notice the “filters” that constrain our ability to really listen in a conversation. If you took it on, you had a chance to see the degree to which we don’t actually listen, but rather receive, process and distort information through an already-always-there filter of assumptions, beliefs, concerns, frame of reference and overall worldview.

This phenomenon has a very real impact on our ability to communicate and act appropriately and effectively in the situations we find ourselves in, whether they be in business, social situations or anywhere else. The basic idea here is that you can’t act appropriately if what you’re dealing with is not the actual circumstances at hand, but instead some distorted version of your circumstances. If you’re missing something that is happening, or adding something that isn’t, you will be left ineffective- AND upset, frustrated and confused about the source of the problem. So let’s explore some types of these filters further.

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Leadership and Management

Over the past four weeks, I have been preparing for an October 14 presentation at the United Nations.  The audience list was created by a Member of the UN Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the host was the Inter-Agency Standing Committee.  The attendee list included some of the most notable Non Government Organizations as well as leadership from UN organizations UNICEF, UNESCO, UN Women and many more.

As I prepared for this, I had as an operating premise the idea that these organizations face unique challenges unlike the corporations with whom I most often work.  I have since come to the conclusion that I was probably wrong.  Organizations seem to face the same challenge set no matter what their type of commitment.

As I see it, there are four primary factors in the success of organizations:

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