In one of her commentaries that conclude each chapter in Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, Sister True Dedication offers some surprising tips to listen deeply.
She writes, “before visiting Plum Village (a monastery founded by Thich Nhat Hanh) for the first time, I didn’t realize listening was learnable. I just figured that you either have the gift, or you don’t—and I didn’t. But gradually I discovered that, the more I was able to simply be still and listen to myself, the more space I had to listen to others; the more I listened to the skies and trees, the more I could listen to human beings.”
But eventually she learned that there are a few tricks that can make us better listeners. Here are three of them.
- Follow our breathing while listening. “Right away, we become an embodied listener. Paying attention to the extraordinary symphony of our breathing keeps us rooted in the present moment and helps us not get distracted by our own internal discourse.”
- Take care of the impression of the other person’s suffering in the way it affects our breathing and our body. “If tension arises, we release it on an out-breath. If our breathing gets uneven or short, we soften and gently release it. We don’t repress any feelings that come up for us; we simply take note of them and embrace them, knowing we can always look into them later after we have finished listening.”
- Don’t interrupt. “When someone triggers us, or says something false, the first thing we might want to do is to interrupt, correct them, and explain why they’re wrong. But, in deep, compassionate listening, our task is above all to allow the other person to say everything they have to say. It’s our chance to hear what they really think, in their heart of hearts.”
You might also be interested in this conversation on leadership and power of listening our colleagues Charles Assisi and NS Ramnath had with Arun Maira. Do listen and let us know what you think.
In this issue
- The Great Supply Chain Disruption
- Attrition or Attraction?
- Cheap Talk
The Great Supply Chain Disruption
A report in The New York Times looks at the Great Supply Chain Disruption the world is facing by focusing on one of the biggest ports in the US, where cargo has been piling up. Some believed that it was temporary, and will clear like traffic jams do. But like wealth, bottlenecks also have a tendency to create more bottlenecks.
“Mr. [Ruel] Joyner, 46, designs his furniture in Savannah while relying on factories from China and India to manufacture many of his wares. The upheaval on the seas has slowed deliveries, limiting his sales.
“He pointed to a brown leather recliner made for him in Dallas. The factory is struggling to secure the reclining mechanism from its supplier in China.
“‘Where we were getting stuff in 30 days, they are now telling us six months,’ Mr. Joyner said. Customers are calling to complain.
“His experience also underscores how the shortages and delays have become a source of concern about fair competition. Giant retailers like Target and Home Depot have responded by stockpiling goods in warehouses and, in some cases, chartering their own ships. These options are not available to the average small business.
Bottlenecks have a way of causing more bottlenecks. As many companies have ordered extra and earlier, especially as they prepare for the all-consuming holiday season, warehouses have become jammed.”
Attrition or Attraction?
Each time we call people in senior roles to ask what keeps them awake through the nights, a narrative we hear often is how they are at work to attract and retain good talent. Because in the post Covid world, people are rethinking priorities and many are opting out of the rat race. That is why we thought the outcomes of a survey by McKinsey most interesting.
“Executives who think that employee attrition is easing—or is limited to particular industries—are misguided. Forty percent of the employees in our survey said they are at least somewhat likely to quit in the next three to six months. Eighteen percent of the respondents said their intentions range from likely to almost certain. These findings held across all five countries we surveyed (Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and were broadly consistent across industries. Businesses in the leisure and hospitality industry are the most at risk for losing employees, but many healthcare and white-collar workers say they also plan to quit. Even among educators—the employees least likely to say they may quit—almost one-third reported that they are at least somewhat likely to do so…
“This trend not only is poised to continue but could get much worse. Among employees who said they are at least somewhat likely to leave their jobs in the next three to six months, almost two-thirds added that they would do so without lining up new jobs.”
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