Strategic #Listening: The Pathway to #WorldPeace with Annie Rappeport

Consider a time when you spent a lot of time and resources with a group trying to solve a problem, and it seemed like nothing happened as a result. You didn’t feel valued and thought you wasted your time. You wouldn’t do that again.

Annie brings clarity as to why this happens in the decision-making process and what the bigger story may be. She helps us consider our role of listening as a leader and how to move beyond checking off the listening box to instead be an effective leader, inspiring people to continue to be engaged in the work that matters.

Annie Rappeport is a current International Education and Policy Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park and an Ann C. Wylie Dissertation Fellow for 2021. Her research focus areas are memory construction, peacebuilding and conflict transformation after conflict and natural disasters. In 2020,  Annie received the University of Maryland Outstanding Graduate Student Distinguished Service award for her two years of service as the Graduate Student Government President, as an active representative on university task forces related to mental health, affordability and access in higher education, diversity and inclusion and civic engagement. Annie is an active member of the International Listening Association and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation furthering her commitment to the value of listening based servant leadership and community engagement. 

Alongside her dissertation, Annie pursues research related to strategic listening and effective dialogue towards health democracies in the United States and in the Israeli-Palestinian context. Her work in dialogue and listening in healthcare settings led her to Dublin, Ireland to speak for the International Listening Association. Annie has testified repeatedly at the Maryland General Assembly for student related issues including the Student Voter Empowerment Act and the Right for Graduate Student Employees to Collectively Bargain. 

In this episode, be surprised at how listening catalysed a shy, quiet person into a strong leader working with complex situations. Annie will share her story as well as help you to understand better what is needed so that the value of listening is not lost. 

Annie also talks about how power plays a role and how to work around those who choose not to listen. She touches on the non-verbal form of listening, where breathing is one way to cue into what’s going on in another person’s mind and heart. She also talks about a balanced way of having a dialogue-focused listening conversation where you not only take in what others have to offer; you also contribute to enhancing communication for better decision-making and change.

“Human relationships are what matter. And being authentic, learning about the people you’re working with, the people you represent, the people you lead, and following through with them and showing your gratitude to them are the whole cycle. And it needs to happen over and over.” 

– Annie Rappeport 

Listen IN Notes:

01:46 – Annie shares her interesting childhood experiences of listening, which now has a huge influence on how she listens.

04:42 – She shares how she was always shy, curious and in an listening absorption mode to best relate to the circumstances.

06:12 – That pivotal (and scary) moment that influenced her approach to listening where listening and having a voice is now more balanced – she calls this dialogue-focused.

11:52 – Listening as the core to about every area; also listening to nonverbal cues

13:00 – Annie shares how breathing and listening interplay.

16:24 How this listening approach helps in education: the shift from absorption to a more participatory mode

20:12 – Leadership is listening to the environment, and being in tune with your community as well.

22:55 – One impactful listening experience she has: ongoing research projects understanding better the efforts of peace-based organizations that are centered around listening, specifically between communities in the Middle East, in Israel and Palestine. She shares examples of how to help listening be possible, also in extreme circumstances of conflict and how this supports overall leadership development.

 29:40 – Power dynamics: How it impacts how much people are willing to share, listen, and act upon what they’re hearing.

31:07 – What does it mean for leaders to listen and not just check off a box?

37:35 –  Understanding the power dynamics to help get positive ideas to come alive.

46:16 – A missed opportunity: when elements of a discussion had been integrated into a decision, but it never got relayed back to those who were part of the conversation.

52:17 – Why it’s important to be aware of these gaps: the need for follow through after being in the listening sessions

53:04 – Annie’s nugget of wisdom that could impact you personally and at work: Be the leader in your world, wherever that is. That you are making sure those gaps don’t happen.

58:23 – How to listen being curious with empathy and compassion: taking a moment to unlearn your preconceived notions, and making yourself a blank slate, even if it’s just for a moment

Key Takeaways:

“Listening just to how the people around you are breathing can really tell you so much about where they are in their minds or in their hearts.” – Annie Rappeport

“When people feel listened to, it just changes everything.” – Annie Rappeport

“Those one-on-one conversations are what people remember; it’s how I’ve been able to keep in touch with and have long-lasting relationships with the people I work with, which is meaningful, personally, to me. It made me, more importantly, effective as a leader; I remember them as a person…And I know at a  meta-level, that helps me truly advocate for them better.” – Annie Rappeport

“If you’re able to, before you ask a critical question, take a moment to pause and wipe your brain clean of your preconceived notions. It can make for some incredible moments of mutual understanding. And I think those are important in dialogue and listening scenarios.” – Annie Rappeport

Notes / Mentions:

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