As I walked by Anne’s office, I heard her say, “Please go on, I am listening.”
I thought it was an interesting thing for her to say; she is such a great listener I would not have expected her to have to tell anyone.
When there was a break in her calls, I popped in to ask her about it. Anne held up one finger to let me know she needed to finish the sentence she was writing. Then she turned off her monitor and gave me her undivided attention.
“What made you say, I am listening on your earlier call?” I asked. Anne nodded and sighed before she answered.
“That was one of my committee members – Rebecca. Actually, she is a member of a sub-committee and she called to rant about Daniel, the leader of the sub-committee.
“She opened our conversation by asking me whether I was prepared to listen to her, because Daniel doesn’t, and she was about to quit.
“That’s when you heard me say that I was listening.
“Rebecca doesn’t feel heard. When she speaks to Daniel, he doesn’t appear to be listening. She said that he:
Doesn’t make eye contact
Looks at his watch
Checks his cell phone
Sometimes he lets her finish but replies so quickly that she knows he didn’t even think about what she said … and he talks way too fast.
“Now, I haven’t experienced that with him myself, but I do understand.
“So why doesn’t Daniel listen to Rebecca?” I asked.
Anne gave another big sigh, “Let me start by saying that I am not condoning his behaviour.
"In our very first meeting, I insisted that everyone on my Executive Committee complete their Platinum Rule® self-assessment. Together, we learned how best to adapt to other people and treat them the way they wanted to be treated. Together we agreed to apply the Platinum Rule® as we worked together and with our volunteers.”
In Platinum Rule® terms, Daniel is a Director; he does everything fast – talks fast, thinks fast, decides fast. Daniel just wants the facts, and he can be abrupt.
“Rebecca on the other hand is a Relater; she talks slowly and deliberately, wants to begin the story at the beginning, is concerned about feelings, wants to be sure everyone is comfortable …”
“The two of them are not connecting. Rebecca hasn’t been exposed to the Platinum Rule® so we can excuse her. Daniel on the other hand has and he needs a refresher on how to adapt to Relaters.”
“So, what are you going to do about Daniel?” I asked.
“I have already arranged for Daniel and his subcommittee to complete the Platinum Rule® training later this week. I won’t be speaking directly to Daniel until after the training when both he and Rebecca have the same knowledge.
“During the training, I will present scenarios that reflect the situations where people don’t connect, where one party gets impatient and the other doesn’t feel heard and get Rebecca and Daniel to work through it together, so they learn how to adapt to each other’s preferences.
“That will mean that Rebecca will need to adapt by abbreviating her story and focusing on the decision she wants. Daniel will need to adapt by slowing down, being present, making eye contact with Rebecca, ignoring his phone, resisting the urge to interrupt, giving her his undivided attention. Before he makes a decision, he will need to be sure he understands what she is asking of him, by asking clarifying questions and repeating back what he understands.
"Daniel needs to be reminded that good leaders are good listeners!”
What kind of listener are you? I know I can do a better job!