040: Wayne Greene-Tulsa World editorial page editor on FAKE NEWS, facts, and opinions
Wayne Greene is the editorial page editor at the Tulsa World. He clams that the journalistic integrity of the paper is it’s most treasured asset. In this day, when the mainstream media is being attached as FAKE NEWS, it’s imperative that readers and citizens have confidence that their main sources for news are holding themselves to the highest journalistic standards of ethics.
In this episode of The Spirit of Leading Greene recounts his early days as a beat reporter and a city editor to explain the boundaries between reporting and editorializing and how the legitimate press draws distinctions between the two. He takes us into the operational structure of the daily newspaper to help us understand what becomes the news and how newspapers are using today’s social media and internet tools to broaden and deepen their coverage.
I’m fascinated by social media. I know some of my social media connections personally, which is to say I had a personal relationship with them before we began using social media to keep up with each other. Frankly, I like the convenience and the richness of information we can share.
I’ve even used internet meeting sites to explore potential persons of interest I might like to know better. I joined meetup.com to check out groups in my area with whom I might have a common interest and want to meet personally.
My point is that social media and internet meet ups are tools. The real deal is meeting face to face to get to know someone at a deeper level. That simply cannot happen otherwise.
The dynamics of human interaction don’t transmit effectively through electronic channels. The real electricity is when eyes meet and when others enter your personal space–and you enter theirs. Only in this space can the magic of interpersonal communication happen.
Even Skype, facetime, and go to meeting can not duplicate the magic of being close enough to touch and engage the full range of senses available during an interpersonal conversation. There is even rich meaning in the silent spaces.
The way to reach out and touch is to meet someone in their space, on their turf, on their terms. Talk at the heart and soul levels that require more than words: tone of voice, skin tone, eye contact, body language, muscle reflex, and breathing rate–all the stuff you miss at a distance.
There is nothing in cyberspace that can replace the power of personal space–the space where you can
Perspective is your physical relationship to information. You cannot have multiple perspectives by sitting in the comfort of your office, or your home, or in the company of your closest friends and ruminating about the world out there. You must go out there and get in the middle of the action.
Perspective is vantage point
The vantage point from which you experience a situation is your perspective. If you are a new employee in a large company, you cannot have the same vantage point as the CEO or even your immediate supervisor because you are not in their position.
The converse also is true. Just because you were once a new employee does not mean you fully understand what it’s like to be a new employee now. Your experience once upon a time is not exactly the same as that experience today.
Perspectives are experienced
You cannot have the perspective of what it’s like to be a person of color living in a white dominated society if you are not a person of color, and vice versa.
You cannot understand the terror of being told you have cancer unless you have experienced that conversation.
If you are financially secure, you cannot understand the gut-wrenching feeling of knowing you have a mortgage or a rent to pay and you have just lost your job and have no savings.
You cannot understand the world of affluence and high society if you do not have the wealth that gives you access to it.
You cannot understand what it’s like to be me because you are not me. And vice versa.
You don’t understand
A friend told me, “You don’t understand what it’s like to be a teacher these days.” They were right. I had never experienced it, so I became a substitute teacher to get a different perspective. It wasn’t the same as, but it helped.
The point is, you cannot have a perspective that you have not experienced. So before you say, “I understand what it’s like,” stop and consider how your experiences compare.
Sympathy is lip service; empathy is a shared experience.
Get up close and personal
I cannot be a person of color, but I can befriend people of color and hang out with them in their places. I can become friends with their friends and try to understand as closely as possible their circumstances.
The television series Undercover Boss showed the mismatch of perspectives and mutual understanding by placing the boss in the employee’s daily environment. The results were amusing and eye opening.
A CEO client once told me how he stayed close to his employees by walking through his plant every day. The problem was, he didn’t spend any time with any one person. Consequently, his employees perceived him as too busy to stop and understand what was going on. I wonder if it would have been more effective to spend an hour a day in one work area interacting more personally with the workers who spent full-time there? And what if he brought one employee a week to shadow him for a couple of days as CEO? Perhaps they would take a different story back to their co-workers from the experience.
I’m not high on critics, because most critics sit in judgement of things they have not done themselves.
I recommend opening yourself to as many experiences as possible. Expand the borders of your comfort world by experiencing, as much as you can, the world in which others live every day.
Enlarge you perspective, and you will be more
If you are listening with your heart, you can hear truth in hurt feelings and anger. The one thing you should not say is, “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
Feelings are always sincere
Feelings are raw and uncensored. They cannot escape notice by the those with a heart for listening. Regardless of the words, feelings seep out through the eyes, facial expression, muscle tension, posture, voice inflection, and tone of voice.
Feelings rise from our most primitive selves. They manifest before a word comes to mind to describe them. They are truth no matter what someone says to disguise them or to dismiss them.
Listen from the heart. Empathize.
Feelings are not supposed to be rational
Thinking is the first step toward insincerity and deceit. We always spin the story in our own best interests to appear strong, right, in control.
But in our heart we know otherwise. Attempts to explain away our feelings are inherently dishonest and unhealthy. What we feel in our gut is honest, and this is true for everyone without exception.
We should never have to apologize for our feelings. Sometimes we don’t even know the words to express what we feel. That’s OK. When we communicate heart to heart we rise above words to delve into the depths of communicating soulfully.
Listen to those who are speaking without words. With practice you will understand.
And then you will know what to say.
When you learn to listen with your heart,
you will be more
I am always right in my own mind, and it must be so. You are the same way. And so is everyone else.
Here’s why I’m right
We are made that way. Each and every living thing seeks to survive. We possess life. I have a life–my life. It know it as me. I spend a lot of time making sure I’m OK. So do you.
One of the things I have to be OK with is the me that I am – my identity. OK=RIGHT.
It’s important to be OK with myself. To be right. And when I’m not OK, it’s NOT OK. OK?
Emotional safety mechanism takes over
Internal conflict is NOT OK. So, my built in self-correcting mechanism seeks to find a way for me to be OK within myself. My beliefs represent the pattern of the world that makes sense to me so that I’m OK.
When anyone challenges my beliefs, they upset my world, and that’s NOT OK. It’s an attack on my identity–me.
To be INPowered2 LEAD, I have to grasp the power of this fundamental truth.
To be OK. Listen to others explain their lives.
Listen to this Spirit of Leading podcast I posted last year. Listen to Lead podcast.
My prescription is for more intense listening and seeking to understand and respect each and every individual for who they are at the moment. Because in their mind they are right and right on.
Listen and be
Partisanship is like handling fire. It can provide illumination or destruction depending on how it is managed. Right now, in America, it’s blazing out of control and threatening to consume our democracy.
But there is an escape
A fire needs three ingredients: fuel, oxygen, and heat. Eliminate any one of these, and the fire goes out. We control fires by regulating the balance of these three ingredients.
A partisan takes a side. Nothing inherently wrong with that. We need people to represent different points of view to help us balance our own thinking and to help us find solutions to difficult problems. That’s illuminating.
When out of control, the heat of passion ignites the fuel of content (words and positions) in an oxygen rich environment of “us versus them– If you aren’t with us, you’re against us–winning is all that matters.” That’s destructive.
A leader is a firefighter
Such a leader can manage the fire, but not if they are adding to the fuel or fanning the flames.
Unfortunately, our political discourse right now is fueled by the rhetoric of extremism couched in half-truths and outright lies, fueled by the passion of contempt and hatred toward the opposition, in an environment where partisans are lined up shouting, “Burn, baby, burn,” at each other.
It’s time to isolate the political pyromaniacs and deprive them of the heat and oxygen they need to destroy everything in their path.
We need INPowering leaders who can cool the passions, moderate the message from inflammatory diatribes to reasoned discourse, and regulate the environment by creating breathing space for conversation and dialogue instead of screaming across partisan divides.
These partisan movements run on the fuel of “B.S.” We must hold all sides, even our own, accountable for the truth in context of their message. If you must lie and twist the facts to make your point, then you don’t have a point.
We must dig a fire line around our passions so they don’t race out of control, igniting what would otherwise not be in jeopardy.
We must create an environment where opposing points of view can be discussed with cool heads and compassionate hearts.
True leadership rises above partisanship. It illuminates.
Be that kind of leader, if you desire to be
Leaders are clear minded about their mission and purpose, which allows them to act decisively in the pursuit of it. This decisive clarity attracts like-minded followers eager to engage in support of that mission. They see a place for themselves in that vision.
Leaders take the first step so we all can move together.
Clarity is powerful. It focuses creative energy on a single outcome. Clarity attracts people who have a sense, a longing, that circumstances could be better. They just don’t know how to get to that place by themselves.
This is where my definition of leadership applies: leaders help us get places we cannot or will not go by ourselves.
This clarity prevents confusion, false starts, and wasted energy. On the other hand, those who lack clarity wander indecisively and often settle for tepid results coming from blurred vision.
Leaders answer these four questions to attract followers.
1. Where are we going and why?
Growing up, I often heard that it’s better to be a meaningful specific than a wandering generality. Have a goal–a purpose–and go for it.
We like to be around people who are going places. Moreover, we admire that they have a vision of where it is they are going, and they can describe it.
In a previous post I listed six steps in the formation and perpetuation of a movement. Expressing the vision comes on the heels of the inception of the idea. Leaders describe the future they envision. Others become inspired to follow.
Embedded in the story is the why. “We are going there so that . . . ” The where and the why are captivating, but they beg the next question.
2. How are we going to get there?
Most of us need a plan of action. How many times have we bought into a grand idea, only to be disappointed in the follow through?
Politicians razzle-dazzle us with their big ideas. They repeat their ideas loud and long with much fanfare, bluster, and arm waiving, let me tell ya. Listen for the plan. Otherwise, it’s an empty promise that isn’t really going anywhere.
Plans have action steps. Plans describe mileposts that measure progress. Plans anticipate obstacles and offer work arounds.
Lack of an action plan results in many false starts and stops that waste creative energy and frustrate everyone. Before you know it, followers have lost confidence and drifted away.
Even with a plan, followers turn to their vested interest revealed in the next question.
3. Will I be OK?
Is the plan doable, and can I do it? Will I make it to the destination? If not, if it’s too risky, why would I even consider going?
Surviving isn’t enough. We need to believe that the future state is better than the current state. The greater the perceived reward, the more eager we are to follow. The reward must be worth the cost of the trip.
4. How will you help me along the way?
Leaders are teachers and providers. In the planning they account for the needs of the followers to make the journey.
There is a difference between a trail blazer and a leader. The trail blazer is on his own quest. Others can tag along, but they are on their own. Keep up or fall by the wayside.
The leader moves systematically ever closer to the destination and helps everyone keep up. Sometime progress is slower. The leader encourages collaboration and teamwork. Everyone grows as everyone goes together.
Clearly answer these four basic questions
so you can be
Giving someone your undivided attention as you listen intently is both difficult and INPowering. Listening without getting distracted by your own thoughts and self-conversation is akin to a super power. And you can develop it.
Like meditation, INPowered listening requires you to empty your mind and concentrate on a single focus. In this case that focus is what the other person is communicating. Doing so will develop your capacity as an intentional and mindful listener.
The goal is to lose yourself in the speaker’s message. It’s a way of getting inside the bubble of their life with them. When I find myself in this mode, it’s like I’m trying to imagine their life and message from inside them. I totally lose myself in that moment.
Listen to what is said and how it is said
Listen for content and context. They are telling you their story at the moment. When you find yourself anticipating what they might say, or judging what they said, you have stopped listening to the message. Refocus. Just listen to the words and the story that is unfolding. There is context in the story that will help you to remember and understand.
Listen to tone of voice, volume, pauses and hesitations, inflections. There is a rhythm to their speech that conveys something about the meaning of their message: excitement, fear, hope, expectation, happiness, all the range of emotions an individual is capable of.
Watch for the non-verbal cues
Watch eyes, gestures, muscle tension, the rhythm of their breathing. This is part of your focus. Pay attention to every detail. This will keep you from focusing on yourself or about what you will say next. When the speaker stops, you will find yourself having to pause and process what they said before you can respond. This takes discipline. You will have to practice.
Feel the emotions being projected by the speaker
Try to get inside their head about what they are communicating about their hopes, dreams, expectations, disappointments, and so forth. You will find yourself feeling with the speaker–whatever emotions they are expressing.
This skill develops your empathy. When you can listen this deeply, you are finally in communion with them, which is the root of communicating.
Remember, everyone at any point in time is always exactly right. Try to sense that feeling of what it must be like to be them at that moment.
Others are INPowered to express themselves and share at a deeper level because they sense you are really into them and not just waiting your time to speak.
Listening with all your heart and senses
developed your ability to be
What is an assertive listener?
Can we talk?
Do your words build or destroy self-confidence in others?