Magazine article Communication World

Listening and Learning

Magazine article Communication World

Listening and Learning

Article excerpt

I once worked with a woman who drove me crazy. Let's call her Donna. Due to a reorganization, our respective departments had been put in a position of competing for staff resources. Frankly, I felt I had been dealt the bad hand in this deal. At every turn it seemed that Donna got more in terms of staff resources. In the meantime, my frazzled staff was running at top speed, coming in early, leaving late, wolfing down lunch at their desks. I resented Donna and told my boss as much. To my surprise, my boss suggested that Donna and I go out to lunch. "What?!" I said. I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to spend even one extra moment with this person. But I had faith in my boss, so I reluctantly invited Donna to lunch.

So there we were, face-to-face. I spent the first half of our lunch listening to Donna, and she spent the second half listening to me. But there was more. Not only were we listening, we were understanding. And I finally got it. Donna was not withholding staff resources from me because she was (as I had believed her to be) selfish, arrogant and ignorant of my departmental needs. In fact, she had taken on a new initiative and just was not sure how much staff time she would need for it to be successful. Her fear was that if she gave up those resources, she would never get them back. …

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