Listen with awareness

May 05, 2021
Photo by AllGo, An App For Plus Size People, on Unsplash

This week we are developing listening skills to connect with people who are different. So far, we have covered listening with empathy and remaining open to new perspectives. Today, let’s practice listening with self-awareness.

Because we can’t possibly be aware of everything, we are not aware of our own implicit biases (preferences); not aware of another person’s full identity, history, or perspective; and we are certainly not aware of the impacts that power, gender, cultural, age, and ability dynamics have on every single conversation.

But by listening for these things, we can connect with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

In Overcoming Bias, authors Tiffany Jana and Matthew Freeman tell us that “When you are a member of a marginalized group, you never know whether something happens to you because you are a member of that group or whether it just happened randomly. It is the source of great anxiety.”

They also write that the “privilege discussion” has been “used as a weapon to blame and shame white people, especially white men,” which leads many to a sense of guilt, shame, or fear.

No matter who you are, people will take offense when you think you know who they are or what they think, without ever asking about their experience.

The workplace is rapidly becoming more diverse.

We are all navigating situations with people who don’t look or think like us.

Until you listen to another person’s story, you won’t know it exists.

You don’t need to comfort, commiserate, or validate anyone else’s experience to connect with them. You just have to sincerely ask them about it.

Confident Communicator Challenge

Today, ask someone who is different from you about their perspective. Make your intent simply to understand.


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