Listening matters. I think we sometimes forget that listening is a skill, and it can be developed over time. Being a good listener is not easy, and it doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Listening matters in our personal lives, but it also matters in the lives of our organizations. We do not always realize how we are perceived by the public, which makes listening essential–we have to be aware of how we are coming across to the community and we won’t know that unless we are listening to what people are saying about us.
Listening gives us the opportunity to enter into conversations with people about the things that matter to them. We find out what people care about, and that allows us to more actively engage them. We can also help shape the discourse around our organizations and social justice movements. If we don’t, someone else will.
Listening should change what we are talking about, and who we are saying it to. Listening helps us understand our supporters and why they want to be a part of our work. It also clues us to in why people might not want to support us, and helps us figure out how to make the necessary changes to get more people on board.
And if we don’t listen, we might have a full-blown crisis on our hands. Komen for the Cure learned this lesson the hard way. Check out this blog post by Kivi Miller about what happened when Komen failed to listen, understand and even reply.
“You are a brand whether you like it or not….you’re going to leave some impression in a person’s mind [and] it’s your choice whether you want to actively manage that impression or whether you want them to come to their own conclusions of what they think about you.”
–Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
How are you listening? And how does that affect the way you interact with your supporters, or the general public?