Reactive Listening


My good friend Jennifer McClure just returned from the SHRM New Mexico state conference where she saw Mike Jones give an excellent keynote speech. She told me all about it — but funny enough, I was only listening to half of what she was saying because an article of mine had just been rejected by the Harvard Business Review.

Dang. Apparently, I read the request for an article but only wrote half of what they needed. Because that’s how I roll — incomplete. Ugh. Such an amateur move. I was busy. I was distracted. I thought to myself, “I’ve written this kind of article a million times. Easy peasy.”

Funny how people expect you to pay attention, which is exactly what Jen was trying to tell me. I snapped back to reality when she Jen described Mike’s speech. I guess he talked about the difference between active and reactive listening. What’s the difference? You’re not stupid. You can figure it out. Reactive listening is assuming the question and having the answer ready before you’ve even been asked anything. (Or something like that. Shit. Busted. Next time I’ll take notes, JM.)

Anyway — when it comes to reactive listening, I do that all. of. the. time.

Part of it is confidence — and I have learned to be confident from the best. I once worked with a CEO who said, “When you’re talking, I’m not.”

And I recently spent some time with a Chief Medical Officer who told me that it took him many years to realize that other people were allowed to talk in a meeting, too.

Men like that have power. They can command a room. But they also have a high percentage of being right. You are allowed to be arrogant and ignore people if you nail it each. and. every. time.

In the case of Harvard Business Review, I did not nail it. In fact, I bombed.

Dang. Oh well. Onward. They’ve given me another chance to be awesome. And I read the scope of the request and thought — I can do this. In my sleep.

Although I’ll hold off on being arrogant — and being reactionary — until after the article is published.

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