Belonging Begins with Listening

One of The Latimer Group ’s core beliefs is that great communication skills can change the world. That’s why we are passionate about what we do, and everything we do starts with communication as our true north. Unfortunately, DEI has been relegated to compliance and risk management for too long, which is why it has been unsuccessful overall. Creating a culture of Belonging within your organization through persuasive communication is a game changer that truly can change the world for people who need it the most.

I recently collaborated with journalist Maya Richard-Craven who concentrates on the perspective of Black, neurodivergent identity in an article on Leadership: Careers section called Here’s How to Practice Non-Performative DEI. In my academic life, I am researching the plight of queer people within corporate America who are pursuing leadership, so this topic is something I understand well. I also have quite a bit of lived experience to boot.

There are two main themes in the article, listening and accountability.  I want to dive into a quote from the article that speaks to what we do best here at The Latimer Group: persuasive communication. Richard-Craven writes, “Listening to your BIPOC colleagues is an essential part of being a real ally.”

Listening is often overlooked as people seek to be more effective communicators, which is unfortunate. People get stuck on the “sexy” side of communication. Think Ted Talks, inspirational team huddles, or masterfully leading boardroom negotiations. Being seen. That’s a great skill, but the essence of quality communication is in the intricacies of intimate interaction between individuals. That’s where communication stops being performative and gets real, precisely what Richard-Craven is writing about. To truly be inspirational, building credibility before you hit the spotlight is a good idea.

Listening must be intentional and actionable; we teach creating a listening plan to achieve this. When you do this well, relationships are built and maintained, and, as Richard-Craven states, relationships are essential to successful DEI implementation. Our Three “R”s of an active listening plan are Respect, Remember and Review.  They represent the three phases you should consider as you build your listening skills.

  1. Respect: This is the before phase. Reduce distractions, close laptops or lock computer screens, prepare to be present, and focus on what is ahead. 
  2. Remember: This occurs in the moment while hearing your colleague speak. Pay attention, allow them to speak, ask questions, and engage in the conversation. Ensure your body language (eye contact, head nodding, facial expressions) conveys connection. Quality listening has a posture.
  3. Review: Listening isn’t over when the conversation ends. Clarify your understanding of what you heard. Is there confidentiality that needs to be respected? Conversely, are there action items you need to follow up on? Reach out to your colleague and let them know how much you appreciated the trust and let them know you will follow through.

By the way, I will write about Belonging more on this blog and within our future course offerings. That does not mean that The Latimer Group is changing lanes. Instead, it means that we will illuminate how investment in your communication skills can be robust to you in multiple ways, including Belonging. Communicating Belonging is a world-changing skill to add to your toolbox, enhancing your process of becoming a more persuasive leader.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

We transform teams and individuals with repeatable toolsets for persuasive communication.
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Jay Prewitt

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.