The Power of Candid Dialog and Active Listening

My father (1920-2003) was a student of the philosophers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. It was, therefore, no surprise for me when going through his things, I found this artifact. Though mis-attributed to Virgil (the quote was originally penned by Cato), my father apparently liked it so much that he hand-painted it and kept it prominently displayed in his workshop.

There is much we can learn from the moral advice offered by these philosophers. Benjamin Franklin counted Cato’s works among his favorites.

There are at least two ways to interpret this quote. The second part of the verse implores us to listen carefully. When we as leaders listen to our employees – and anyone for that matter – we are better served when we listen actively. This means that we seek common ground to establish rapport, ask questions to better understand meaning, and create a foundation upon which we can further our leadership.

On the other hand, the first part of this verse is troubling. One measure of organizational health is how directly we can communicate with one another. If we speak with each other “with caution,” we risk masking our meaning. We mask our meaning by using general terms or flowery language. This does not further the cause. If, instead, we are open and direct, we build trust, which in turn creates an environment where people can move faster in the pursuit of organizational goals.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

 

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