Reclaiming rare listening as a means of organizational re-enchantment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a reclaiming of the potency of Rogerian listening in organizations. The paper views listening after Rogers, the father of active listening, as a process with potential to re-enchant organizations and the people who comprise them, in a move away from the popular view and professional training that fosters instrumentalized listening that deadens organizations and crushes the spirit of individuals. Design/methodology/approach: The study employs a text analysis using iterative coding processes and constant comparison. A total of 12 web sites focused on "active listening" in business contexts were analyzed for overlap and divergence with Rogers' descriptors and essential conditions for active listening. Findings: Rogers is almost completely disassociated from his original multi-sensory conception of listening, which is now reduced to a set of instrumental tips and techniques that help the listener gather data in the interest of achieving preconceived goals. Rarely was Rogers' intention invoked - of understanding in the context of growing a relationship between speaker and listener that was grounded in unconditional positive regard, care, and love. Research limitations/implications: Though the sample size is limited, it suggests a particular zeitgeist in organizations that inhibits the possibilities of re-enchantment by shutting down a principle of channel for developing understanding and making connections that can foster novelty and increase collaboration. An awareness of the current reduction of listening being taught in organizations, and the particular ways in which it varies from the richness of Rogers' powerful conception is the first step toward identifying and overcoming the barriers to re-enchantment at individual and organizational levels. Originality/value: The prevailing efforts in the literature include listening as one dimension in the broader field of communication skills, and tend to result in recommendations that deepen the instrumental nature of listening in business. This study focuses on listening exclusively, beginning with the origins of Rogers' "active listening," examining the ways it has been conceptually co-opted and distorted, as a first step in the process of reclaiming it from the territory of calculated and observable skill.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-157
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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