Two competitive U.S. corporations were working on a joint project. The first step was to build a team composed of engineers from both companies. They were all very committed. The project was going to be profitable for both companies ($650 million over 2 years), and yet nothing was moving forward. It seemed that nothing could get done, and there was always a point of disagreement or argument.

When both teams were asked to think about the assumptions that they brought to the new working partnership, they started to discover some fundamental and underlying judgments, evaluations, and assessments that they had about one another, such as:

* They are our competitors – we can’t trust them.
* Our engineers are better than their engineers.
* We do things our way – the right way; they do things wrong.
* Whatever we do, they’re going to steal.
* We don’t really want to work with them (after all, we’ve been in bidding wars with them on projects).
* They are really the enemy

No amount of leadership could build teamwork on top of these unspoken assessments, on top of what they already “knew”.   All of this is what they had “listened” to in their own minds. Until these team members dealt with their “automatic” listening, they were stuck.

Source: When the Canary Stops Singing, Pat Barrentine

LISTENING LEADER LESSON: If you have a doubt, ask yourself: “what is actually being said?” or “what is here that I don’t see?”. You then fight off the tendency to engage in automatic listening ( which is actually non-listening).   LISTENING PAYS!

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