This note is based on an article and a podcast by Malcolm Gladwell. I will give the links at the end of the posting. 

In the article and podcast, Gladwell asserts that when we listen we filter what we hear through our own biases. He tells the story of Konrad Kellen who is seen by Gladwell as having the gift of listening without filters. It is a fascinating story and I recommend it. The story tells of the disasters that can follow when we listen with filters and I think that he is recommending that we try as hard as we can to remove our filters.

I have thought about the story in the context of what I do in the Constellation. I think that Gladwell would say that when I practise SALT, I listen with the very specific filter that allows me to hear 'strengths' and thus I filter out a lot of other things that are being said. Perhaps I am comfortable to filter out 'weaknesses'. But perhaps I need to test myself for other things that I filter out when I listen. 

I am not sure that I can listen without any filters. Those filters are based on the experiences that I have lived. But it is worthwhile to recognise that I do have filters. Once I listened for weaknesses. Now I listen for strengths.  But what am I not hearing?

Here is the link to the article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23037957

Here is the link to the podcast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b036k7d0

The article and the podcast are part of the promotion for his new book called 'David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants' that will be published on 3 October 2013. I haven't read the book and I am not recommending it. 

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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on September 7, 2013 at 9:04am

Response from Usa Duongsaa posted in CLC Nepal group on Facebook

Usa Duongsaa Yes, Philip Forth, the link works fine, thank you!  Great activity by Luc and great story indeed.  Absolutely agree that asking the right question(s) is key.  In my experience, I have also found that there are many right questions to ask. And I see nothing wrong with simply asking a direct question of "What do you think are your/the group's/the community's strengths?".  Never had a problem with that direct question, so long as it was asked with genuine interest.   The people might be surprised because they got used to being asked what their problems were but not what their strengths were, but they never were short of answers.  I think our attitudes and the way we ask are as important as the questions we ask :-)
Comment by Phil on September 6, 2013 at 10:15pm

Hi Marie, 

We talk of 'appreciating strengths'. Perhaps this does not mean that 'we' have to appreciate 'their' strengths. It does not mean that 'we' have to inform 'them' of their strengths. What is important is that 'they' appreciate 'their' strengths. And for this to happen, we don't have to say very much. 

I like this story by Luc:  https://sites.google.com/a/communitylifecompetence.org/the-global-l...

Here the ladies talk, Luc listens and the ladies come to understand their own strengths. And they are surprised by their strengths.

I find that 'appreciating strengths' is a subtle and delicate thing. 

Phil

Comment by Marie Lamboray on September 4, 2013 at 3:39pm

More on listening in the following blogs and comments:

Learning to listen more carefully, by Phil 

http://aidscompetence.ning.com/profiles/blogs/learning-to-listen-more

 

“In order to Listen Attentively, I must be conscious of this - to be fully present for the other person(s), accepting, respecting the person(s) who is in front of me, as fellow human beings.” From the inside out, by Christina Maria Padman 

http://aidscompetence.ning.com/profiles/blogs/from-the-inside-out

Comment by Marie Lamboray on September 4, 2013 at 3:36pm

Je comprends l’effet du filtre « être attentif au forces » par rapport à celui « être attentif au problèmes » et le rôle stimulant qu’il a sur une communauté ; cela crée de nouvelles conversations, de nouvelles possibilités. Mais une écoute sans être attentif ou attentive aux faiblesses ou aux forces ne fait-elle pas aussi du bien ?

Si mon interlocuteur a vécu ce que je raconte de la même manière ou de manière différente, ou s’il a une histoire vécue ou non qui m’aide à voir autrement ce que je vis, j’aime l’écouter.

I understand the effect of the filter "look for strengths" compared to "look for problems" and the stimulating role it has on a community; it creates new conversations, new opportunities. But doesn’t it also feel good when we are just listened to, without remarks on our weaknesses or strengths?

If the person I’m talking to has experienced what I said in the same way or differently, or if he or she has a story, true or imaginary, that helps me see what I live differently, I love to listen.

 

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on August 10, 2013 at 6:00pm

Hi Phil,

My takeaway from your blog and video was when listening to people be present. Listen to not only what is said but also listen for what is unsaid and what you feel is meant. I tried it out yesterday when someone was upset and  I responded lovingly because I had seen the intention behind the words spoken. Thank you Phil!

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on August 8, 2013 at 8:02pm
Kristin Bodiford Very useful! Thank you Rituu for posting.
Comment by Phil on August 8, 2013 at 11:56am

Dear Rebeka, 

Sometimes I read something and it makes a lot of things make sense. And things fell into place when I read your comment. Yes, in order to listen, I need first of all to listen to nothing (or perhaps I need to listen to emptiness). And when I have done that, I can listen, perhaps with or perhaps without a filter. But first of all find the silence. 

Thanks you very much for that, it is a great help. 

My best wishes

Phil

Comment by rebeka sultana on August 7, 2013 at 8:11pm

Phil, 

Thanks for the post. I totally agree if we can just LISTEN, not strength not weakness but listening. At times I even can't listen. And this happened at home while I am doing something and in the middle my husband or son passing behind me and telling me something, or asking something. I just don't get what they saying. I need total stopping before listening. Because often time in these situations after minutes of conversation I caught myself I was thinking totally different things ....

I thing L ( listening) is the most important element of SALT, and our everyday life.

Regards, 

Rebeka

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