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  • Writer's pictureJustine Jones

Radical Listening in Leadership

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

Published April, 2023

You’ve probably heard the quote by Greek philosopher Epictetus, who said, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Listening is difficult to master no matter the industry. In local government, listening is an essential skill for developing relationships, making and executing decisions, resolving conflicts, effectively communicating, and shaping culture. Admittedly, it can be hard to know where to start, especially with the intensity of daily operations, the fast pace we are often required to move, and the efficiency we strive to strike.

Deputies and assistants regularly interact with individuals in very different roles in our workplaces. Because we are in a time when local governments are highly scrutinized, recruitment and retention rates are low, employees are leaving in record numbers, and we have suffered a loss of trust in public agencies, we can no longer afford to miss prime opportunities to address the significant barriers we are confronted with. In essence, deputies and assistants can use their positions to give time and space to allow those we interact with to express their story wholly and without interruption by listening empathetically, which is dually beneficial to the speaker who feels genuinely understood and the listener who holistically understands what was conveyed.

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