The First Step to Understanding is Listening
The old adage “the best defense is a good offense” is an appropriate descriptor for one of the ways Ghanaians approach listening. In a nutshell, the belief is that to be listened to, one must make sure that one has done everything necessary to ensure that your message will be received and that you will feel heard. What does that look like? Be sure you owe no “debts” to the person you want to listen to you. What are those “debts”? Do not owe them honor and respect, and fulfill your responsibilities to them if there any.
Kwasi Kyeremeh, originally from Ghana, moved to Rochester in 1997 to attend Minnesota Bible College. Currently, Kwasi is Assistant Pastor at Wind & Fire International Christian Center a non-denominational, multicultural congregation, in Rochester Minnesota. He and His wife are blessed with two children and are foster parents who have had the privilege of sharing their home with many children.
“Making decisions on behalf of others is a key responsibility for elected officials. Listening is essential for effective representation, for resolving differences and in making decisions for the com- mon good. I seek to listen with curiosity rather than judgement, especially when there are strongly held beliefs or opposing views. When I listen both for what I already know and for what surprises me, I learn, have more productive conversations, and am able to make more informed decisions.
Sheila Kiscaden, Olmsted County Commissioner, District 6 since 2013. Long-time SE Minnesota resident, and former Minnesota Senator from 1992 to 2007, Kiscaden has a long history of community service as a volunteer, consultant, and elected official, including serving on many local and state boards and commissions. She is currently the Chair of the State Community Health Services Advisory Council, Co-chair of SE MN Together and is an active member of the Rochester Area Housing Coalition, and the Rochester Housing Alliance.
“Listening in multi-tasking situations is some- times required and can be effective. But I contin- ue to learn that most people prefer, want and need my full attention rather than my divided attention when they speak to me. Genuine, effec- tive listening and multi-tasking generally do not belong in the same sentence or experience.”
Kati Cooley has worked in sales and marketing for more than 10 years in Rochester, specializing in business development and marketing strategies. While she loves her career as an Advertising Director at the Post Bulletin/Rochester Magazine, her favorite role is mom. She lives in Rochester with her four kids and is always up for a game of cribbage.
While human relationships involve multiple issues and dynamics, it is ineffective listening that will lead to a closed door on resolution. Author Steven Covey has a great quote on this point saying, “seek first to understand and then to be understood.”
Steve Lansing, PhD, LICSW, Vietnam Veteran, Clinical Director and CEO, EmPower Comprehensive Treatment Center, Rochester, MN Empowering individuals and families to effect change and live fulfilled lives. “Having the life you want by learning the skills you need.”
Listening builds every virtue in us. We learn from others and gain prudence, we hear another side and pursue justice, we restrain our response and show temperance, we search for a common way for- ward and are thus courageous. I pray for the humility and discipline which this practice requires. And pursue it even when (especially when) I think the same courtesy hasn’t been extended to me. – Doug Bodde