The need for vigilant curiosity & listening

February 3, 2017


It’s hard to look away from what is going on in our society politically and socially. Regardless of where you stand on the left, right, somewhere in between, there is an overwhelming amount of shouting, confusion, pain, and frustration. It is all too easy to get riled up and indignant should you but look at any social media or turn on a tv. While the times are crazy, they are opportune as well. Opportune for changing the way we talk to each other, the way we vet and consider information, and the way we go about action. 

 

Humans are emotional, irrational creatures. This can be entertaining, and it can also be alarming, depending on the circumstances and parties involved. This is especially true with our new president and administration. Right now, everyone has something to lose and something to gain whether they are aware of it or not. Remaining staunch in your experiences, beliefs, and status does not serve you, and it does not serve the progression of our nation. We are one, big, complicated system, and one, universal thing I know about systems as an OD professional is that curiosity, inquiry, and active listening are foundational. 

 

In OD work, this is how you begin to construct what is really going on in an organization. It is how you learn about employees’ pain, gaps in processes, and where the leverage lies. Asking the right questions, truly listening to the responses, and continuing to be persistent in question development is how the work is attuned and effectively executed. I admit that this is reductionistic in regards to approaching the outrage of policy that alters lives, muddles American identity and values, and elicits extremism. I admit there are some days I contemplate wrapping myself in the Gadsen flag and storming many a city center to voice my fury of so many beautiful, diverse people’s rights being tread upon, and I commend those that stand up and speak out; it is eternally important.

 

The emotional aspect of these times is undeniable and unavoidable, yet I see promise in true intentions and dialogue. Every person has a story to tell and a perspective to add, wouldn’t it be in our best interest to begin to search for truth and common ground? One avenue for this is to be curious, ask questions, and listen without formulating a response then act accordingly. The actionable part is up to individual discernment and choice, but I venture to say that actions that have been preceded by informed inquiry have a higher probability of desired outcomes than those preceded by emotion alone. Collectively, we can begin to illuminate the leverage points and more fully understand many belief systems, political systems, institutional systems, and social systems by checking assumptions and leaning in with curiosity first.

 

Be curious of your fellow human, be skeptical of the face value of news media, and never stop showing up for freedom and the pursuit of a better world for all!

 

(If you need somewhere to start: 7 Ways to be More Curious, Learning to be Curious)

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