Being heard: overcoming fear in organisations

Recently, I wrote about transparency and left the question of “what are you expressing if you are not being transparent?”

Fear is a common answer.

Fear of being criticized for our transparency, fear of our ideas being used without credit? Fear of not being heard, because nothing ever changes, and no one listens?

An organisation in fear cannot be transparent. Lack of transparency leads to the right people not knowing the right things at the right time, leads to project failure, isolation of work and just pure frustration for those involved, which leads to less transparency. They say success breeds success, well, failure breeds failure that is driven by fear.

What to do with fear?

Be transparent.

Yes, I know it’s an oxymoron from what I’ve just described. If you’re not able to get your fear out and be heard though, what next? Of course, it helps if the leaders are able to take the first steps in acknowledging this fear, however it’s often the last thing that a manager sees, as they’re caught up in budgets and schedules, and why aren’t things working!?

We all feel unheard in one way or another, even managers, it’s the way our world has been designed, to just do and get done and not express ourselves. Because of this preconditioning we are not willing to listen until we’ve been heard and sometimes we’re not willing to be heard. It has to start with someone.

So, are you able to take the first step and really listen before being heard?

It can start with the simplest of interactions, just ask how a person’s day is and take a moment to actually stop and listen beyond the ‘fine-and-you’-and-walk-away. They may just turn around and genuinely ask how you are. If that felt good imagine what it would be like to find out what is actually happening for that person on your project.

If we can open the discussion by listening without interrupting the other person, then we open up the possibility of being heard and finding the way past fear into transparency.

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