On several occasions, I have had the privilege of working in Guatemala in villages of people who have been historically marginalized. Due to generations of political manipulations and societal injustice these groups of indigenous people have been relegated to the most barren and remote parts of the mountainous regions and are living without access to basic needs such as running water or electricity. On these visits, without fail, the one consistent thing they asked of us was to remember them when we returned home. I often thought that was a strange thing to ask, until I began to understand that when they were saying “remember me,” they were really asking for us to deeply hear and remember their story.
A Call to Conscious Communication
When I saw the title for our reading this week: How to be Heard,” my initial thought was “oh, this will be an interesting read on how to elevate my voice at work.” And, in part, I was correct. Julian Treasure is well-versed in effective communication, and I did find some great tips on how to intentionally approach how I am listening and speaking in meetings to be very effective on how I get my point across. Additionally, his methods will be helpful in building trust and rapport in teams. However, the most valuable concept for me was around honoring others by being conscious of their perspective; by deeply listening.
“Powerful speaking and listening both require you to be fully conscious. We do people a disservice when we listen without complete attention; just in the same way, most of the bad talks I’ve seen in my life have been delivered by people who went unconscious about what they were doing or failed to prepare.”
The Broader Impact of Consciously Listening and Speaking
In his writing as well as in his related TED talks, Treasure shares his beliefs that by listening and speaking well, we can improve society at large. Perhaps my initial interest in the self-promoting benefits of being a better communicator were short sighted. The above quotes assert that better listening and speaking require a greater consciousness that society, over time, has abdicated to more immediate forms of communication. Treasure believes that by expediting our communication, we are slipping into faster thinking, which does not allow for deeper understanding of each other.
A Current Proposition for Conscious Communication
Today, you cannot throw a stick without hitting an issue of contention. As my area of study is about how Christians disagree with each other, there are plenty of examples to use as case studies. Immigration, DEI, Politics, Education… the list can go on and on. Everyone I speak with says they want to be able to have civil discourse about these issues. In reality, however, what I have observed is that civility requires that both parties believe they have been heard by the other.
Is this need to be heard the same as what I learned from my friends in Guatemala? Are people in polarized groups needing to have the assurance that they have been seen as an individual? That their context is understood? That they have not been forgotten? I am not suggesting that the contentious issues in society are all solvable if we just hear one another, but I do believe that it would be an interesting experiment if we could infuse more listening and more intentional speaking and see what happens.
While Treasure is guiding us to be more conscious listeners and speakers, I also read his work as a call to be respectful and to communicate this respect. He is asking us to be fully engaged with the person in front of us- to respectfully consider them as we listen and as speak.
Applications for Leadership Learning:
As the end of our term draws near, I will offer a few flashbacks from our previous readings as a backdrop for this week’s reading: How to be Heard.
- From Mining for Gold: “God is looking for Samuels, leaders who will see the gold in people by the Spirit and draw out those riches for his purposes.”
When I am coaching someone, how can I more fully listen to their story?
- From Leading Out of Who You Are: “True leadership is leadership of ourselves and others into this kind of life: embracing our full humanity, discovering what it is to be fully human, to participate fully in the world. Once we understand this, we begin to understand that leadership is not restricted to the narrow range of activities it is often supposed to be…Leadership is the activity—any activity—that leads other people more deeply into this full humanity: which enables them to take hold of, and take responsibility for, the life that they, as a unique, particular person within the created human race, have been given to live.”
As I become a more defended leader, how can see others more clearly so I may I better engage them in their calling?
As I reflect this morning on the reading, Philippians 2:3 starts ringing in my ears: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” As differentiated leaders we are striving to engage those around us for a greater purpose. Perhaps then, the art of hearing and being heard becomes more a spiritual practice of remembering the other than a tactic to achieving a personal goal.
 Julian Treasure, How to Be Heard: Secrets for Powerful Speaking and Listening (La Vergne: Mango Media, 2017),.237.
 Julian Treasure, “Julian Treasure: 5 Ways to Listen Better | TED Talk,” accessed April 8, 2023, https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better; Julian Treasure, “Julian Treasure: How to Speak so That People Want to Listen | TED Talk,” accessed April 8, 2023, https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_how_to_speak_so_that_people_want_to_listen.
 Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching (La Vergne: IVP, 2019), 17.
 Simon P. Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership (Piquant Editions, 2007), 196.