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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Listening or spin at White House today?

I got excited this morning when I heard that President Bush had invited about a dozen former secretaries of state and defense -- from both parties -- to the White House today to talk about Iraq.

Imagine the potential value of putting such talented people to work to figure out how to best navigate the complexities of this situation?

But was the intention to really listen to new voices or simply to put a more positive public spin on the Bush Administration? Here's how to tell the difference.

My communications scholar friends, like Walter Carl at Northeastern University, say that there are three general categories of listening, a sort of Maslow's hierarchy of listening, if you will. People tend to feel listened to when they reach the third level.

1. Recognition: just recognizing the other person's existence
2. Acknowledgement: acknowledging what another person feels or thinks or says
3. Endorsement: accepting another person's thoughts or worldview as valid and legitimate

Were these former global public policy leaders really listened to today?

PS: This listening hierarchy is also helpful to assess whether we're really listening to customers.


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