Listening and Time

It's so hard to listen and be heard when there's no time

In the rush that can be part of much of the work of doing change-making and innovation, I find that the biggest thing to suffer is the ability to listen. Without time to reflect or articulate complex ideas or even just one’s feelings, it is so easy to get lost, misheard, and misunderstood.

I see it with every project I work on with clients who are in a hurry. They are under pressure from others who are often under pressure themselves and this cycle of ‘deafness’ comes without the possible benefits of compensation (like picking up brail — to take the metaphor further).

Finding Quiet

I was recently speaking with colleagues about one of my most favourite books: World Enough and Time by Christian McEwan. It is, among many things, a treatise on the value of time and how we experience it in our lives. It’s about challenging us to examine our relationship with time and the space we create in relation to it for ourselves and others. I used to give copies of this to people (and probably still ought to consider that).

It’s a call to resist the temptation to allow us to be harried into deafness of sorts. The irony is that work that is under such pressure to get done gets done less efficiently because of the problems posed by miscommunication, lack of being heard, and the problems of dealing with complexity without the care required to fully appreciate what is going on.

Maybe the subtitle should be ‘making quiet’ instead of finding it because the rush is always about finding — or claiming quiet.

Photo by peter bucks on Unsplash