Creating A Safe Environment For Listening


Photo Credit: Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

I, along with my partner, Lynda Katz Wilner, had a wonderful opportunity this week to present to human resources professionals on “The Power of Listening: What Happens When We Are Intentional.” During the presentation, we intertwined diversity, equity and inclusion with effective communication skills. Here is a snippet of what we discussed regarding creating a safe environment for listening.

There’s a lot of power in active listening – listening with our ears, eyes, mind, heart and undivided attention.


Active listening allows us to better understand ourselves and others. It helps managers gain feedback from employees and discover problems before they occur. It builds trust and respect among colleagues. And it reduces the chance of miscommunication and conflict.

But as leaders, before we can fully engage in active listening, we must create an environment where others feel safe enough to share.


Consider the following:

  • Life experiences – Not everyone has had the same life experiences as you. Think about the phrase “common sense.” There’s really nothing common about it. What’s common sense to you may not be common sense to me.

  • Culture – We all come from different backgrounds.

  • Current events – Diversity, equity and inclusion are front and center because of things that have occurred in our country. We want to make sure we’re sensitive to that.

  • Ask questions – Don’t assume you know what someone is going to say. We often come at conversations with our own perceptions of life. Ask questions before responding.

  • Respect the pause – Think before you speak. Engage your thoughts before you engage in conversation. Take a minute to gather yourself and understand the value of emotional intelligence and social awareness so you can engage in a respectful manner.

  • Recognize your own biases – Identify your biases and then intentionally challenge yourself to change them.

This week, think about a situation where you were in the minority. How did it make you feel? What made you comfortable or uncomfortable sharing your thoughts with others?

And don’t forget to sign up for “DEI Conversations that Shape Culture – Changing the Landscape for a Diverse Workforce,” our next virtual event on April 13 at 10 a.m.

Click here for more information.

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