Creating LUCK in Communications: 
Listen to Understand & Create Kinship

Old Irish legend is that if you follow a rainbow to its end you’ll get lucky and find a pot of gold. At a minimum, there should be a leprechaun hanging around the pot of gold and if you’re lucky enough to capture one then you’ll be granted 3 wishes. I’m not a scientist and it was only recently that I learned that the laws of physics prevent this from ever happening (finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is and not necessarily the ability to capture a leprechaun) because a rainbow is actually circular. What this means is that we only see half of the rainbow because the horizon covers the other half, which actually happens to be in the sky. I won’t go into the details of how a rainbow is created (it has to do with light, refraction, raindrops, the anti-solar point, angles and … you get the picture) and leprechauns may (or may not) be real but a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow seems to be, according to physics, physically impossible. No matter how much luck you might believe you have most likely you’ll never find the end of the rainbow. Despite this, I still believe that when it comes to communicating with others you can still create your own “LUCK”.

Here at VOICE we are always looking for strategies, techniques and tools that can help us develop better working relationships. Last month I wrote an article on the Relationship You Deserve, which began a conversation on what are some of the characteristics that great relationships have. We continue this month that conversation, and being that old Irish legends abound this month, we couldn’t help ourselves but piggy-back on the idea of creating LUCK – an acronym for Listen to Understand & Create Kinship) - in our working relationships and how we communicate with others.

A surefire way to derail communications is to simply fail to understand others. Ever interacted with a salesperson and right off the bat you recognize that they are not truly listening to you but are trying instead to convince you to listen to them? It’s frustrating isn’t it? If they only listen to you they might actually find out what you need and then be able to share with you how their product (or service) meets your need. Same with our daily interactions. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we expect from others that we don’t slow down enough to make sure we understand what they need from us. This doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to accommodate or provide what the other person is requesting/needing from us but if we don’t Listen to Understand other’s than there’s a good chance we’re missing something.

  • Am I listening more than I’m talking?
  • What is it the other person is communicating and/or needing?
  • Have I asked and confirmed & validated with them what I think I’ve heard them say?

These are not the only questions we could be asking ourselves but they are a simple method of increasing the likelihood that we are understanding the message others are conveying.

The second component of creating LUCK in our communications is to Create Kinship. Understanding others is a foundation for what needs to happen next – which is creating a partnership (or what I would call a Kinship here). Kinship is a state of being connected to people and recognizing the reality that they are human and despite all differences that might appear on the surface this other person and you still have many commonalities. These include, but is not limited to, the need to be understood, to be appreciated, to be respected, etc. In essence, it is the recognition of the human dignity in others.

Here’s an interesting scenario: Think of the most influential person (living or passed on) in your life.  If this were the person you were communicating with how more persistent would you be in doing everything you could to ensure you understood them?

I’ll take an example from history to illustrate the power of creating kinship. Remember the Cold War (or for those of us a tad younger that have only read about it) I grew up in the 80’s and grew up with the specter of the “evil empire”. In fact, I remember when the space shuttle Challenger tragically blew up and my first thought (embarrassingly now yet I was only 14 and influenced more then by the media then I am now) was to immediately think that the “evil empire” had somehow blown up the space shuttle. As you might remember the Cold War was a scary time and it took 2 leaders, Ronald Reagan & Mikhail Gorbachev, to shift the conversation (and perception) our two nations had towards each other.

How did this shift happen? Gorbachev, when asked in an interview about the moment that the Cold War ended traced the moment to when he and Reagan stopped demonizing each other and instead began seeing each other as human – in other words, kinship was created.  Now, politically, we may have strong feelings one way or another about these two leaders (frankly, I do but that’s a conversation for another day). The point is, in a heartbeat the wheels were set in motion for perceptions to shift and in this moment these two leaders illustrate it.

  • Regardless of our disagreement what about this person do I have in common with?
  • What about this person do I respect?
  • What about this person do I wish I could be like?

As an Ombuds I’ve seen the power this can have in interactions were two people may be so polarized until they begin seeing the other person not as the villain in the story but as a partner in helping solve the challenges at hand.

People that consistently seem to have great working relationships aren’t lucky in the traditional sense. They’ve simply found a way for LUCK to work for them. Though rainbows may never touch the ground may we still be able to create a pot of gold in the form of better relationships by creating our own LUCK.