LISTEN 360° – Ready to (Really) Listen & Connect?

–with Colin D. Smith

Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self.

–Dean Jackson

I have been so impressed with how many “common” members of the BizCatalyst 360° network have put their time and skills at the disposal of the group. Not the least of which I have enjoyed Mark O’Brien’s reflections on his writing workshop.

Many things can be learned by reading and writing the dialogues we have with our articles and comments.

But reading and writing wouldn’t be a great way to learn to swim. Partly because swimming requires that at least one person gets wet. Partly because by the time a lifesaving comment filtered through the systems, the student might have drowned. Likewise, listening and speaking with empathy are skills hard to learn except in real-time. Much to my surprise, though, it doesn’t have to be face to face in the same room. I think many of us have experienced that in the small groups on the Friendship Bench or in other virtual gatherings over the last year.

Thus inspired and encouraged, Colin Smith, “The Listener” and I have now collaborated to offer a free communication training group to 10 BC360° members in collaboration with 360° Nation.

From many of Colin’s articles and some of mine, you can see what this is all about:

  • Increasing emotional awareness and literacy;
  • Getting comfortable with silence;
  • Feeling curiosity rather than judgment about the other person;
  • Giving feedback on how what is said and how it is said lands with you;
  • Getting feedback on how what is said and how it is said lands with others;
  • Realizing how much of what we hear is influenced by our prior experiences;

There will be a little theory and “handouts”, but mainly we plan “facilitated swimming”.

This kind of training can give some bruises.

One kind of bruise is to the ego if we experience that people feel hurt by something we say. Sometimes we can say the same thing differently and it becomes less hurtful – that is the connection bit we can learn and practice. We can learn why it was hurtful and learn more about each other and the world.

Another kind of bruise is if something said by others triggers deep emotions for us – feelings we may not be prepared for or ready to handle. For that reason, anybody who is in some form of therapy should consult their therapist before signing up.

And just to make it perfectly clear: the purpose is to practice communication, not to solve any problem that any member is carrying into the room. That said, if we reply from a triggered position, it can be both healing and build trust within the group if we can name what happened inside that caused a disproportional reaction.

It can be a good idea to keep a journal of what comes up while being part of this process. But it should be a journal of what comes up for you, not what other people disclose. “What happens in the room stays in the room.”

The T in T-group is for Training. Colin and I want to build is a “safe swimming pool” where we all get in the water together and all help keep each other afloat. There may be some deep dives, but there is no intentional dunking and we don’t leave anybody at the bottom of the pool.

Who wants to come swimming with us?

All available seats for our first four-session Training Group have been  taken. Please contact me via LinkedIn if you’d like to be added to the Waiting List for our next series of Group Sessions.


Charlotte Wittenkamp
Charlotte Wittenkamp
Charlotte Wittenkamp is an organizational psychologist who counsels international transfers, immigrants, and foreign students in overcoming culture shock. Originating from Denmark, where she worked in organizational development primarily in the finance industry, Charlotte has lived in California since 1998. Her own experiences relocating lead down a path of research into value systems and communication patterns. She shares this knowledge and experience through speaking and writing and on her website Many of these “learning experiences” along with a context to put them in can be found in her book Building Bridges Across Cultural Differences, Why Don’t I Follow Your Norms?. On the side, she leads a multinational and multigenerational communication training group.

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  1. Dear Charlotte,

    An awesome idea and amazing initiative by yourself and Colin. Swimming is a fine example.
    The description of the Zoom sessions is more than tempting!!!
    Thank you for sharing.
    My kindest regards to you,


    • As you probably know all to well, Simon, when a company has had consultants leaving a tome of findings, there is still the job to execute.

      I feel the same way about a lot of really good books teaching us better habits: There is still the job to execute.
      And that can be very difficult to practice in a world that loves consistency over change. So this is the place to practice.

  2. Hi `Charlotte,,

    Of all your posts I like this one the most likeable. I love its coherence, knitting, ideas connections, and the smooth move from one idea to the next.

    I am in your swimming pool and enjoying its warmth and feeling safe that if I drown there is somebody around to rescue me.