Communication Is A One Way Street

    In a work meeting I recently attended, we were asked by management why we are afraid to provide feedback to them. Some honest and thoughtful responses were given. One answer given is that leadership doesn’t seem to listen so there didn’t seem to be much of a point in making an effort on sharing our opinions. Another person stated that people are so used to being told what to do that they didn’t realize ideas on changing how we do business was wanted or desired.

    After ten minutes of engaging discussion, those in charge stated that despite the hurdles to meaningful dialogue we brought up, the responsibility to usher in change rested solely on us. The old adage that communication is a two-way street apparently does not apply to our department. It’s a crime to stay silent and when we actually do speak up we’re wrong too. Corporate America can be frustrating.

    This maddening and patronizing attitude has bled into the area of politics. As someone who leans toward the ideas of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, I’m told I’m wrong because Sanders isn’t considered electable. They assume I didn’t put any serious thought into why I feel the way I do. I should just vote for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because she’s the inevitable choice. I’m asked why I feel the Bern, only to be told I’m wrong and should go with Hillary. The political discussion feels just like the meeting at work I described. We have a lively discourse that ends in a feeling of exasperation. 

    We are approaching a time when having meaningful responses to ideas and criticism are something to check off a list. We've lost the desire to talk respectfully with the purpose of understanding each other. Are we afraid of confrontation? Are people afraid to lose face when confronted with their faults? Should meaningful assessments be ignored? Do we simply underestimate the intelligence of the person on the other end of the line because they don’t agree with us?

    Personally, I love talking with people. I like learning from others. Yet meaningful conversation is becoming scarce. In most arenas, people only talk. Let’s make sure we listen more.