368: Chester Elton, part 1: Asking and listening across color lines

2020-08-03

You're about to hear a conversation post-George Floyd by two leadership writers. Normally we write for mostly business audiences. this conversation felt more personal. Normally when a friend introduces a potential podcast guest, we start by talking each other's work and figure out scheduling. With Chester---maybe given his openness and, I think, mine, as well as the protests raging---we jumped into talking about race and our interactions with people of different color. We spoke for a couple hours about a topic that polite conversation often avoids, let alone makes it the first thing two people meeting for the first time discuss. Those past conversations set the tone for the conversation you're about to hear, also the continued protests, media discussion, and our growing friendship to keep speaking more openly. I posted last week, 2020 in 9 words: “Everybody wants to be heard and nobody is listening.” I think my conversations with Chester helped prompt that insight. By contrast, he listens. I'm trying to learn from him. Do you know of people in authority showing the world that they are listening and making others feel understood? In fairness, can someone with a national voice, with all the protests from different angles, make a group or bunch of groups feel understood? . . . or even feel listened to? When I teach leading groups, I use Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail as an example of someone making others feel understood, where his sharing his vulnerability as a father probably made his audience of protesters feel more understood and listened to than the ministers whose letter to the editor he responded to. It's the best historical example I can think of and I don't see renowned leaders following or matching him.

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