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The canny tale of Kate and Jamie

The canny tale of Kate and Jamie

Nicola Hopes

4 July 2023

I was running a training session recently where one of my favourite quotes from Brene Brown came to mind:

"Never underestimate the power of being seen."

I was working with a mixed level group developing their Change Confidence. One of the most senior and vocal people in the room (let's call her Kate) kept stopping to lean in and hear what a quieter, much less experienced member of the group was saying (let's call him Jamie).

It was clear that Jamie had lots of ideas and lots of potential, but he wasn't so forthright in sharing his views. Kate recognised this and regularly went out of her way to ask his opinion and bring him into the conversation.

She'd say things like 'Jamie, have you seen that issue?' or 'What would you do about that Jamie?' or my fave 'Does that really happen Jamie? Tell me more'.

The result was nothing short of miraculous.

By the end of the session Jamie was leading a breakout discussion and playing back their views to the whole group.

And it wasn't just him. Other, less experienced, people in the room started to channel 'Jamie'. They shared their views more freely and challenged those of others without fear.

Other, more experienced, team members started to channel 'Kate'. They listened more attentively to the whole room and geared back on their domination of the conversation.

The best thing? The benefit for this team now goes way beyond some (hopefully) career changing experiences for those involved. The real win is that the quality of ideas and nature of the debate were infinitely better as a result.

I've taken ideas out of the room that I didn't have when I went in. For someone who loves to learn like me, that's better than a party table with a full cheeseboard, and I'm truly grateful.

What does that mean for me?

I'm sure we can all do more to listen more attentively to different points of view. (I'm sure, dear reader, you've all had times when you wished I'd put a sock in it!)

Even if you think you're great at this, you could still up your game.

How would you honestly answer these questions?

  • Peer pressure - do you use your influence to call out those around you who are selective / hierarchical on who they listen to and engage with?

  • Selective hearing - do you pay more attention to listening to all views in certain discussions more than others? For example, you might be less conscious of the 'quiet but brilliant' person in the room when you're with a mixed level group rather than when you're with a team who report into you.

  • Leadsplaining [© High Hopes!] - are you guilty of 'helping' less experienced team members by re-phrasing or repeating what they've said because you think that's the way to get the heard or because you think you'll make the point better?

  • Other voices - are you good ignoring hierarchy, but less consistent at listening to people with other traits that cause them not to be heard? The things that make people feel 'other' and not in a good way. For example: gender identity, race, religion, sexuality, neurodiversity.

I’ll be remembering that session for years to come and I hope it makes me better. #bemorekate #getmorejamie

Who needs to be seen in your team and how will you do it?

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