Thing 1 and Thing 2

As a leader, it is important to look at Thanksgiving in a different light.  True leaders, in my opinion, have been blessed with a gift.  A gift that needs to continually give to others. 

I recently finished reading a book entitled The Weekly Conversation by Brian Souza.  As I read through this very engaging story, I realized that every moment is a coachable moment.  Too often we as leaders are looking for the “right time” to have a key discussion with a peer, team member, or even a manager we report to.  There is no right or wrong time to have that discussion.  There are only those discussions or conversations that do not occur because of the “what if”. 

I had a conversation with one of my sons (Thing 2 or T2) about his schoolwork.  He is consistently a very strong student and work hard.  He was telling me about one of his classes where they were having a group discussion and his thoughts on a topic were different than his classmates.  He said that he chose not to speak up.  At that point, it didn’t matter for me about the grade, but rather the “why” he chose not to share his perspective. 

As we discussed a little more, I wanted to share with him that regardless of a grade, in order to be successful in life, he needs to be willing to speak his mind and support his position with a solid argument.  At the same time, he needs to be willing to listen to others as well.  I have read some of what he has written for his classes, and it is solid.  This was my opportunity to impart some of my experience on him that communication is not one sided.  It needs to be an engagement of differing opinions, but a common understanding and respect for others perspectives.  Too often, conversations do not occur for precisely that last reason.

Now, my other son (Thing 1) will argue a point until the cows come home.  This too can be detrimental to open communication as no one wants a discussion to be monopolized.  He is very emphatic about his beliefs and will engage in a conversation on any topic with anyone at any time.  As I have observed him with his peer group from afar, he does actively listen, but will always try and persuade you to his position. 

Back to the book.  Having a conversation should be a natural occurrence.  Whether you are Thing 1 or Thing 2 in how you approach conversations, the key is that you are willing to engage in thoughtful dialogue as a leader.  Be open to others perspectives and be a consummate listener and learner.

Have a great week!

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14 thoughts on “Thing 1 and Thing 2

  1. As someone who doesn't always speak up, I can relate to not wanting to share a contrary opinion with a roomful of people who are so sure of themselves. It's great that as his dad you encourage him to do just that – I certainly did not receive that sort of encouragement.I have learned that listening can be useful when you do disagree. I sometimes I do active listening as a way to get someone to listen to themselves when they are expressing a strong opinion that may be a bit on the intolerant side. Active listening is a skill that needs to be developed and often doesn't come easily.

  2. I agree with you Mark. If people do not speak up, it results in a herd mentality and many a disasters could have been avoided had it not been for the fact that someone with a better solution or awareness did not speak up.

  3. Cool post. I know too many people that think they're engaging in conversation, when they're actually talking AT you in order to get their point across and seem as if they know what is right. Accepting the opinions and view points of others as a learning experience within a conversation is the best way to engage and keep a a topic dynamic.

  4. Hi Mark: I've always felt that a balance is needed for optimum communications. You need to be as good a speaker as you are a listener.Sounds like both your sons could use Toastmasters! TM teaches us the perfect balance of being able to express ourselves while intently listening to the other person/people. I carry that with me in every aspect of my life.

  5. Speaking up is important, but so is knowing your audience. I think I filter myself a lot, based on how willing to listen and speak back honestly and intelligently I perceive the other person to be.

  6. Good advice and one I always tried to implement when teaching students how to engage in class discussions regarding literature. Unfortunately, the art of conversation and true dialogue seems to be fading more and more.

  7. I can't tell you how valuable what you are sharing with your children is. People may not like what you say but a true leader sometimes will have to stand alone. Better to do that and stay true to your beliefs then follow the pack and not be true to one's own heart.

  8. It's definitely a fine balance trying to figure out where you fit in on that spectrum and when it's appropriate to take one stance or the other. Both speaking up and listening are equally as important. When I don't feel comfortable speaking up through fear, I usually regret it afterwards, but there are other times where I don't want to waste my energy when I know the other person is coming from such an opposite perspective. As with most things in life , it's a balance.

  9. BroHawk, Great article..I love the "Thing 1" & "Thing2" names. There is a 3rd option here. Being able to ask good questions. My father taught me a little poem many years ago: "I have have 6 good friends that help me in all I say and do. They are "What?", "When?", "Where?", "How?", "Why?", and "Who?".So often when someone makes a statement for which I have an alternative idea, it is best to explore segments of their opinions. For example: "What experience led you to that conclusion?" ; "When would you expect that to happen?"; "Where would you implement that, first?";"How would we explain that to the others?"; "Who would implement this?"; "Why should they want to?". So…before I make a statement, I like to know the nuances of the other's thoughts. It helps me to craft a more thoughtful defense of my own ideas.

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