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Listening as an Equity Practice
Do you know what it means to listen as an equity practice?
As an equity practice, listening, is one of the most foundational skills one can have. For some this may seem obvious, but the thing is, most people don't listen this way. In the decade, that I have been practicing and teaching neurolinguistic programming and the power of language, what I have noticed is that most people listen, attached their own perspective.
They listen to judge right versus wrong;
They listen to assess good versus bad,
They listen to validate or invalidate.
They listen, waiting to make their point.
And while it may seem natural to listen this way, it leaves no room for getting the perspective of another. In the work of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging, it is essential to be able to see different perspectives. When one clings to their own perspective, compassion for anything other than someone who shares that same perspective doesn't exist.
A person may think "I listen with an open mind", and it is not uncommon to believe you have an open mind and yet still listen from your own view. Listening with an open mind is not the same as perspective taking, rather, it's merely the attitude of "allowing" another to speak their opinion.
Another way people think they are listening is focusing intently on hearing the words that people are saying, and trying to understand them to parrot them back to the speaker. And while you may be able to understand your meaning of the words that they're saying, or you can't really understand what the words mean to them, unless you engage in this perspective taking.
Perspective taking is when you listen beyond your view, and you are able to see the view of another (even if you aren't able to experience their lived experience). In perspective taking, you allow yourself to hear them from their level of ability, their values and what's important to them, their belief systems, their identity, and their purpose, not yours. When you listen from this space, it allows for opening of dialogue, and allows for multiple points of view to be contributed.
You might then ask, how is listening and equity practice specifically? When we look at the definition of equity, it the state of being fair and just...where there is a balance of power. It goes without saying the depths of inequity that currently exist in our country, let alone the world. However, if we are going to change the systems, it starts with shifting our listening to a more inclusive listening.
When perspective take, we invite diverse perspectives, and are committed to mutual understanding. Listening as an equity practice is a shift that gives creed to what others are saying, understanding their point of view, and respecting their experiences. This type of environment creates a space people from all backgrounds feel valued, respected, and that their voice matters.
Perspective taking also allows one to gain a better understanding of the experiences and challenges of another (even if they don't share that lived experience), which ultimately can lead to uncovering and making changes to the larger systems that source these inequities. Furthermore, when we listen with an equity lens, we open the space for dialogue. This, in turn, can help to turn misunderstandings and conflict, into shared values and common ground. By creating a culture of listening with equity, we can foster a sense of community and belonging.
All of this may seem very simple, and it can be. However, it is often the simplest action opportunities that are the ones that are most overlooked. When I teach my NLP certifications to individuals, and my trauma-informed communication trainings to educators, executives, and healthcare professionals, they are always surprised by the little nuances I teach that give them a much more expanded awareness of how to listen with perspective taking in mind. Even those who pride themselves as being "good listeners" realize that this is a skill that must always be cultivated in order to continue to expand.
Listening is a powerful tool for creating equity. By listening to others, we create an inclusive environment, encourage diverse perspectives, and promote mutual understanding. This, in turn, can lead to the dialogues that develop policies and practices that promote equity and inclusion on a larger level.
Join us for our next NLP training. Expand your listening capacity, learn trauma informed communication, help your children navigate challenges with ease. Go to www.mindremappingacadmey.com to learn more about our trainings or visit www.remapmymind.today
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