Bringing the practices of mindfulness and dialogue to leadership conversations

Bare listening

Posts Tagged ‘Listening’

Bare listening

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I’ve been thinking (yet again) about listening, catalysed by two experiences:

resisting the four levels of listening of Otto Scharmer’s Theory U; and

● being drawn towards the premise of listening to connect, proposed in Judith Glaser’s Conversational Intelligence.

As I pondered the roots of my aversion to one idea, and my attraction to the other, I changed my mind about both. (more…)

Holding conversations

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The more dialogue-related work I do, the greater my appreciation for the connection between the outcome of a conversation and the climate within which it’s held. By ‘outcome’ I mean not just the immediate ‘upshot’, but the impact of the conversation on relationships and the bigger system. (more…)

Sounds of silence

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Since my return from a silent retreat, I find myself talking a lot about not talking. The irony doesn’t escape me. While words can’t fully express the experience and impact of silence, I continue to explore how I might articulate its merit in embodying dialogue practices.

I’ve written about silence before – in my book, Pause for Breath, and in an article for Coaching at Work, about a visit to Bhutan. In the latter, I described silence as part of the landscape – a textural backdrop into which sounds seemed to fall and dissolve. (more…)

Handing over

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I was inspired by the British relay teams in the European Championships last month. Their performance was fabulous, of course, but even more stirring was their camaraderie, cohesion, and sense of supporting each other in a shared endeavour. Their success sharply contrasts to the woes of a few years ago, when British teams seemed unable to get the baton to the finish line.

Back then, I was immersed in a ‘learning review’ of a project in serious difficulties. (more…)

Passing places

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The single track roads of the north of Scotland offer a fine ‘simulator’ for paying attention to, and reflecting on, our patterns of thinking and behaviour when we come face-to-face with someone with a conflicting plan. If I’m driving from Broadford to Elgol and meet someone travelling in the opposite direction, how do we navigate a space that’s only wide enough for one of us? (more…)

In another light

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As I begin to write this article, I’m in the Orkney Islands, which Andrew Greig, in his novel ‘In Another Light’, describes evocatively as ‘land like an old green tarpaulin dragged out of the North Sea, glinting pools of water in its folds’. My first impressions are of another place, qualitatively different in energy to any other part of the British Isles.

With other island communities, Orkney is keen to shape their own future. They’re in a conversation with the Scottish Government similar to that between Holyrood and Westminster about Scotland. More widely there are conversations about the UK’s relationship with the EU, and the options for an independent Scotland in Europe. I have a sense of asymmetry in these conversations (more…)

Sweet spot for support

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As a coach and coach supervisor I’m currently reflecting on how I offer ‘support’. Balancing challenge and support is a pivotal tenet of my practice, and is fundamental to many professionals involved in personal development. By nature I’m more disposed to challenge – it comes relatively easily, and feels ‘innate’ in some way. Support feels more ‘learned’, a little less adept and agile. When I offer support I need to pay conscious attention, and be mindful of my intent and the impact of my words and actions.

What do I mean by support? (more…)

Still listening?

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This month, I am completing my series of pieces on aspects of the four dialogue practices outlined by Garrett, Isaacs and others: authentic voicing, respecting, suspending judgement and listening. Listening, along with suspending judgement, especially supports skilful inquiry, an intention to draw out and include what is not yet known.

As I began, I realised that I’ve already written about listening twice this year: Giving talk a rest!?, posted here, and Talking well, a guest post for FuchsiaBlue. ‘Giving talk a rest!?’ explores the potential therapeutic impact of listening well – being heard can bring a sense of ease and nourishment to a speaker. ‘Talking well’ considers the whereabouts and intensity of attention.

I want to take these themes further, in support of the idea of listening as receiving. (more…)

Giving talk a rest!?

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As I begin to write this blog post, there two strong influences on my thinking. Firstly, I was asked by my friend and associate, Julie Drybrough, to write a guest post for her blog with a theme of ‘talking well’. My response was to write mostly about listening well, which I believe to be a precondition for talking well.

Around the same time, I read a prize-winning essay by my friend and fellow coach Brigid Russell, in which she explores how coaching can feel like therapy for a busy leader. (more…)