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Sound of Silence: A workshop for Improving Understanding and Listening

by Ben Linders on Sep 30, 2013 |

At the Agile Tour Brussels conference, Luc Taesch facilitated a workshop about understanding and listening. To be able to listen to others, one should first be able to listen to oneself without the interruption of emotions, like fear, doubt, or helplessness. And learn to welcome feelings and understand them.

In system and product design knowledge workers can experience unclear and changing situations. When collaborating that can lead to uncertainty and raise emotions. In the workshop Luc applied "cognitive science" or "neuroscience" for IT Professionals, and provided solutions to help them dealing with interrupting thoughts and feelings.

If you build something concrete, you can see what is done and what the other is doing. For a system build with software that’s different, you cannot see or touch the whole system. That makes it difficult to communicate, and to create a shared understanding when a team is building a software product.  Each person listens and interprets to build his/her own picture of the situation. Which can be right or wrong. And will definitely be a partial view.

Luc stated the problem that he sees: people spend their adult live in their own thoughts. Since there are limits to what thoughts can do, people tend to stay in their comfort zone and become risk averse and resistant to change. People are often not aware of this, which further limits them in their acting. The solution as Luc explained in the workshop is to get a better feeling of yourself and your emotions. And to recognize resistance, and welcome your thoughts which makes it possible to deal with them more effectively.

Meditation is to do “no-thing" ... and see and welcome what surfaces ... and this is a learned skill. Luc explained in the workshop how you can use it to prevent identifying yourself with your body sensations and thoughts. Which helps you to welcome feelings in stead of resisting them, and to become better in understanding and integrating them. “When you listen to some-one - Be the silence that welcomes any sounds”.

For the prezi that was used in the workshop, see the sound of silence. There is also an introduction to cognitive psychology for the IT practitioner available.

The 2nd edition of Agile Tour Brussels featured local and international speakers from various industries like IT, Game Development, Research, Teaching, Marketing. It covers themes like Agile, Scrum, Kanban, XP, Lean, Innovation Games, Agile Games, Systems Thinking, Lean Startup and also Problem Solving and Soft Skills. InfoQ covered the conference at AgileTour.

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