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Edition Nine: Unselfishly understanding

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The art of listening well.

Erich Fromm is one of those philosophers/psychologists who write for humans. When I cam across this, I recalled being told it’s OK to tell a direct report “not right now.” You can say  “I want to listen to your worries carefully, so please come back in 20 minutes os I can finish this Very Important Thing, and I’ll give you my full attention.” The key is to know that making space to listen to someone is more important than listening as soon as possible (unless it’s urgent).

This list on how to listen or how be “unselfishly understand,” as Fromm calls it, is cribbed from a Brain Pickings post on Fromm’s book “The Art of Listening.”

The extra-quick tl;dr: To be a good, understanding listener, you need to be fully present and find a way to care about the other person, even if you don’t like them.

1. The basic rule for practicing this art is the complete concentration of the listener.
2. Nothing of importance must be on his mind, he must be optimally free from anxiety as well as from greed.
3. He must possess a freely-working imagination which is sufficiently concrete to be expressed in words.
4. He must be endowed with a capacity for empathy with another person and strong enough to feel the experience of the other as if it were his own.
5. The condition for such empathy is a crucial facet of the capacity for love. To understand another means to love him — not in the erotic sense but in the sense of reaching out to him and of overcoming the fear of losing oneself.
6. Understanding and loving are inseparable. If they are separate, it is a cerebral process and the door to essential understanding remains closed.

To me this translates to not always taking my laptop with me to meetings, making sure I have “walking meetings,” doing my best to take 10 minutes at the beginning of my day to prep (or at least think about what I will say), and using my reporter hat and asking followup questions to make sure I understand someone.

It’s hard some days, and I don’t always succeed, but hey, progress is progress, right?

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Next week I have a present for you. It involves organization and planners. Until then….

I’d love to know what your planner/notebook looks like. Send me an image, a link, whatever you’d like and I’ll share with everyone next week!

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Great things I’ve read lately
How to give bad news to your team well. (Leadfully) Things PowerToFly co-founder Katherine Zaleski wishes she knew before she became a boss. (Forbes). Women don’t apologize too much, men don’t know how to apologize (Elle). The most ridiculous Ask a Manager question I’ve ever seen. (Also, just a great column to read).

Jobs jobs jobs 
A few senior-level production jobs (ATTN)  Video production in LA! (KTLA). Lots and lots of fellowships available for the Jack Jones writing retreat (Jack Jones). The Dori Maynard fellowship (SPJ). City Editor in Monrovia, CA (Southern California News Group)

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