image for the reciprocal relationship of listening and telling

The reciprocal relationship of listening and telling.


At the heart of our business model is one key idea. The reciprocal relationship of listening and telling. It’s actually happening to you now, as you read this word. As a reader, you are in an implicit relationship with us, the author, and you may imagine or conjure up an image of who we are. (Your curiosity about us is already an active element in your reading experience.) We, as authors, envisioned a reader, to whom we addressed this article. Of course this exchange right now isn’t dynamic; there’s not the vital give and take of listening and telling in person. But this moment models the idea.

Listening influences telling. And telling influences listening. They are truly mutually influential, intertwined, and cannot be separated. As a listener, are you: attentive, frustrated, distracted, mad, ready to move on, happy, hungry, or blissed out? Any of those conditions will affect the person speaking to you. Take one, attentive. When you are attentive the speaker senses your focus and will accelerate or deepen his or her delivery to meet your interest.

What we’ve found in the 25 years since Murray Nossel, PhD, discovered the vibrance and necessity of this principle in his work with AIDS patients at the height of the crisis in New York City, is that sensitivity to the reciprocal relationship of listening and telling transforms communication. It opens up the full empathic capability of human interchange; it spurs creativity and insight, sympathy and identification; it never fails to create connection.

Our entire methodology is based on this core principle. It’s what powers storytelling to go beyond one mind simply mirroring another—the neurological basis of human exchange— toward a partnership of communication with intentionality and vision that businesses can use in multiple contexts. So, how are you listening? How will that affect the person who speaks to you next? And to them next. And ripple throughout your organization.

Contact us if you would like to explore how our methodology can address communication in your organization.