LISTEN WITH THE INTENT TO UNDERSTAND


One of my favorite habits in Franklin Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People being the 5th habit: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Oftentimes our human brain starts drafting the response before we hear the entire story. Even though we would love for others to give us the time to get our points across, we often fail to offer the same courtesy to others. In the past, I would find myself in a scenario where the other person starts talking at the same time as I do, and vice versa. Does that sound familiar to you?

When we are quick to respond, we allow our unconscious bias to pilot the response.

unconscious bias: a prejudiced judgment either in favor of or against a thing, group, or a person.

Sometimes I feel it is difficult to draw the line between bias and preferences. I experienced it firsthand yesterday.

It started when I expressed my preference disfavor the opportunity to report to millennial. In my statement, I emphasized that I favor and have always enjoyed working with millennial. However, having to report to one is different. Thus the difference between working with and working for.


The type of leadership I admire combines not only with the solid hard skills, but mostly soft skills collected from our everyday life. Just like the older generation has its disadvantage when it comes to knowledge in today's technology, the younger generation has its own downside. Their disadvantage being having less life experience compared to the older generation.


I have worked with leaders whom I consider as my lifelong mentors. I have worked with leaders whom I never want to see again and wish they would burn in hell. Gathering all that experience, I established my preference for selecting an ideal employer:

  • the company value reflects all c-level personal value

  • the company fosters transparency

My preference for an ideal leader (whom I report to directly):

  • worked his/her way up throughout career journey

  • a lifelong learner

  • (when possible and applicable) diverse friends on Facebook

I will elaborate on both lists in a separate post. For now, let's get back to the experience I encountered.


Once I expressed my preference for disfavoring to report to millennial, the unconscious bias was taped to my forehead. The immediate responses were

"You're painting them with the same brush."


"I am dumbfounded you would even think this way when you come across as a nice person."

I am fully aware there is no justification for what appeared to be an unfair judgment the second my preference is being labeled as the unconscious bias. I did not feel the need to further defend myself as the people who made these comments did not intend to first understand why I said what I said.

So here are my reasons why working for millennial would not be my first choice:

  • the ability to identify hidden talents

  • the maturity in offering objective and constructive criticism

  • the ability to nurture the team (beyond fully stacked snack and Happy Hours)

  • the ability to provide or recommend promotions and not allowing nepotism being in the way

Granted, some of the baby boomers fail to possess the ability and maturity mentioned above. None of the people who rushed

in to reply to my preference asked why I felt that way. The truth is I have had worked for millennials before. Twice. Similar to being in a toxic relationship, my workplace drama led to sleep deprivation. Not to mention how it affected my mental wellness. It's a simple been there, done that scenario. Do I want to risk again by giving the benefit of the doubt? No, I do not.


We can see people are quick to argue and cannot be bothered to first understand the entire story on social media these days. Like Franklin Covey's quote: "People do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." Taking a minute or so to fully understand the situation could avoid heated arguments, counter-productive meetings (workplace), misunderstanding, and, most of all, hurting people's feelings unintentionally.


With that said, should any millennial demonstrated the four skills above, would I reconsider my choice? Abso-tootly, I will.

Copyright © 2020 Diana Y Chang        Texas, USA