Cheryl was impatient to get to her meeting. She knew how this get-together would be different. Her behavior would be the first to change. Instead of a one-way interaction, Cheryl planned to ask questions and listen.
“I know listening is important,” she said.
“It is the easiest thing to do and also the most difficult,” I prompted. “Tell me, what will you be listening for?”
“I will be listening for good ideas to solve this Quality Control issue,” Cheryl was quick to answer.
“That’s a good start, but the solution isn’t the hard part. Heck, they know the solution. The hard part is getting the solution executed. That’s where you have been getting push-back.”
Cheryl glanced at the ceiling, then at the table. “You’re right. The resistance has been implementing the inspection program. I will just have to try to understand their position better.”
“Cheryl, it’s more than listening for understanding. Understanding only gets you halfway there. You have to listen for discovery. You have to discover where their position intersects with your position. Only when you find that intersection, that common ground, can you begin a conversation to build the best solution. When you find that common ground, you will begin to build the trust necessary to gain the willing cooperation of your team.”
Cheryl lifted her pen to the paper on the table. She drew a line and wrote “the team.” She drew another line crossing and labeled it “me.” Where the lines intersected, she wrote “the starting place.”