THE LISTENING PROJECT
human technologies for social change
Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. A.A. Milne
This is the best description of the human predicament I've ever come across. And it sums up the reason I've started The Listening Project (formerly called the Radical Listening Project.) I'm convinced there is indeed a better way for all of us to engage with each other across political divides, if only we could stop for a moment and think of it. The answer lies in the phrase--stop for a moment. Press the pause button on our reactivity, our assumptions, our very human tendency to blame, justify, rationalize, demonize, polarize, defend or attack.
Our brains simply haven't evolved to meet the emerging threats to human and planetary flourishing. We are still wired to perceive difference as a threat, thanks to our limbic brains. In particular, our amygdala (part of our survival brain) is activated into the flight or flee response when it comes to political difference—we have all sorts of names for people on the other side of the political divide, and we crave the dopamine hit our brains get when we are around people who think like us. But the way we are dealing with these differences is imperiling the health and survival of our planet, our future and our humanity.
The good news is that we all have the capacity to consciously evolve our brains, to override our limbic, reflexive responses to political/social difference through the practice (and it IS a practice!) of a kind of listening that is at once radical, dynamic and restorative. When we are willing and skillful enough to hear what is at the heart of another’s viewpoint, we are embarking on the most human and uncertain of journeys. I am convinced that wherever we end up will be better than the trajectory we are on right now.
The human listening project is a social experiment. If you feel it’s worth a try, please (oh please do) join me.
RADICAL ENGAGEMENT--AN INVITATION
If you feel, as I do, that there is a better way of solving the complex problems that face us--at work, in the world, in our communities, in our politics, in our social structures--let's talk! Send me a note or sign up for a RLP event. Together we can do good things here.
DYNAMIC LISTENING WORKSHOPS
The ability to authentically listen to those with profoundly different views than us does not come naturally. Radical listening takes skill, practice and commitment. We'll only be willing to try this if we truly understand that the social and political polarization and divisive rhetoric are NOT working for anyone.
Click on the Contact Us button on the menu bar to find out more about our workshops.
OUR CONVERSATIONS REQUIRE A NEW KIND OF LISTENING
We need to stop underestimating our influence to effect powerful social and political change. Deep, radical listening can change brains, hearts and minds, and it can transform our ability to meet the political, social and leadership challenges of this time.
FIND SOMEONE WHO SEES THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY
You'll be surprised at what can ripple out from a single, sincere and vulnerable act of listening.
WORKSHOPS, TRAINING AND TOOLS
We offer a range of workshops for organizations, for communities and for anyone seeking betters ways of collaborating and engaging across social, cultural and political differences.