Are You Listening?

The blog this week was written by Wendy Hutchison, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute. Listening and hearing are two different things. A person can hear and not be listening to what one is saying. I have often heard people say “listening is my strength” or “listening is my weakness”. I do believe that listening is a talent and can be learned and strengthened over time. Not everyone that hears is listening.

In community brokering, we rely on listening to the stories and dreams of the individual. This may require patience on the part of the broker and the individual; patience by the individual to realize their dreams or identify their story and patience on the part of the broker to listen to what they are saying.

As is true in all of our interactions with others, we need to listen to what someone is saying to us and also to what they are not saying to us. Sometimes it is what someone is not saying that we hear loud and clear.

I once learned in a Negotiations Training for a purchasing job a tip that I still use to this day. When you find yourself hearing and not listening, they suggested “going up to the balcony and look down on the situation”. Think about what the individual is saying and what they are not saying before you respond with your position. In negotiations, you have completed the negotiation when both parties feel got what they needed, in full or in part — A Win-Win situation. Sometimes this takes several days or months and a lot of patience. We should always strive for a win-win situation in community brokering, a win for the individual to achieve their dream; feeling supported and respected and a win for the community to accept the gifts of the individual.