2011 has been the year of protest above all others. Never have protests gathered for so long and with so many and so far around the world.
There is something deep about the need to be able to have one’s say and to be listened to. It has two parts, and often this is forgotten. The need to be able to speak and the need to be heard.
The human brain is incredibly sensitised to pick up whether we are being ‘heard.’
It does not occur somewhere along a long line of reasoning, you do not have to take in data to see if you have been heard. You sense it.
So the sense of being heard is deep and powerful and is a holistic response. It is there because the fundamentals of good communication require exchange, and exchange can only occur efficiently if there is an accurate sense of ‘are you listening?’. Communication is not about only taking turns to speak, it is also about taking turns to listen.
The look of ‘are you ready to listen’ can be seen in the first responses of a new-born baby to a parent. It is a lock on, and in its most powerful form becomes what is known as bonding, the following of one or two individuals as being the ‘most significant people.’
As we grow up and as we learn more about people and things we begin to check the veracity of being listened to. Games begin, deceit is practised. And those who wish to deceive will employ attempts to bring in left brain focused rationalisation to prove that someone is being listened to. But the expression in the old cowboy movies from Hollywood says it all, where the ‘Red Indians‘ say that the ‘White People’ speak with forked tongue. What we say is not what we mean.
The common ground among protesters on Wall Street and in Syria and all the other countries is that the 99% feel they are not being listened to, they feel they have no voice, and any attempt by those who should be listening to move on those who say they are not being heard will fail unless they can be convincing that they are listening.
The complete communication failure in and around St Paul’s Cathedral in London was an indication of a failure to understand the difference between listening and hearing, between listening with the heart and listening with the head. At first the Church leaders seemed only to be listening with their heads, all the responses were left brained, detail. Being able to repeat what someone has said is not enough. As those in relationships know only too well, just being able to recall the words is not enough to convince that the message was received.
It is not enough to be on Twitter. Twitter is a ‘message out’ service, it does not have easily available tools to indicate ‘message received.’
It does not have a silence button, the button we press when in live one-to-one conversation we indicate we are actually listening.
The Advice to The President, or the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Mayor of London, or Company Chief Executives, is that Protest is about hearing what comes from the heart in the heart, and no amount of fact is going to get that across.
And because the human brain is deeply wired to sense what is true and what is not true, ultimately deceit is found out, it only takes a moments reflection, access to the holistic sense of truth, for the deceiver to be known.
The good thing is that all the President has to do in the first place is actually hear what is being said. If it is heard, then ultimately that will begin a process of healing between leaders and the lead. Between the people and their President, or Prime Minister, or religious leader or company boss.
And for the President to be able to listen to others, of course, she or he has to be able to truly listen to their own heart.
And for the Advisor to The President? The same applies. Am I listening? Am I being heard? But now there is an up and a down in the listening and hearing, and care may be needed to deal with any Spokesperson who may throw the whole thing into disarray by also not listening with the heart.