Don’t worry about that

A few weeks back, in a conversation with a colleague, I raised some issues that were important to me.  Well, I tried to raise them.

“Don’t worry about that.  Besides, I’m working on these other issues that are more important.”

That response reassured me–NOT!

That response told me that my concerns were not being taken seriously.  In fact, I wasn’t sure that they were even heard.  This was very frustrating to me.

It also reminded me that I’ve done the same thing.

As a software development coach, I’m in the business of helping people to change the way they do things.  Silencing their objections doesn’t help.  Adopting change is a long term proposition rather than a one-time agreement to buy.  If you blow past an objection, it won’t dissipate.  It’ll still be there tomorrow.

Instead, it’s important to really listen to someone’s objections.  Let them know that you’re listening, even if you don’t agree with them.  Perhaps, especially if.  Let them know that you’ve heard them correctly (or, possibly find out that you haven’t).  Dig into the reasons behind the objections they express.

I’ve been working with Dale Emery this past week, and it’s such an instructive pleasure to watch him illustrate this behavior.  I’m such an amateur in comparison, though I’m a long way from where I was.  I’ve taken to wearing a small horn charm, symbolizing an ear trumpet, to remind me to really listen.  It’s my addition to the Consultant’s Tool Kit in Jerry Weinberg’s book, More Secrets of Consulting.  That tool kit is, in turn, based on Virginia Satir’s Self-Esteem Toolkit.

The next time that you want to convince someone of something and they have an objection, do a favor to both of you.  Remember to listen.

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