Mid-summer is always quiet for us. Our clients go on holidays, or are working with a reduced staff. So, our email goes quiet, except for the perpetual spam. Also, the only phone calls we get are from unsolicited sales reps and the fake Google account calls we cannot seem to block. As a result, mid-summer is a good time for quiet reflection, after a busy winter and spring. With this in mind, I spent some time this week reviewing my last few posts. I noticed I have spent a lot of time talking about talking. My focus has been on keeping the climate dialogue open, because when we do, we are more likely to achieve our resilience goals. But, with all the discussion about talking, I noted I have been quiet about talking’s silent partner. To have a meaningful dialogue, we need to listen too.
Many folks are talking about climate change, but I note much less evidence of people listening to each other. While talking is fine, listening is just as important. So, to move forward, we must be open to what the other guy is saying. I believe that the key to progress is a shared understanding of the problem. With this we can all pull together towards a common goal and avoid the barriers created by arguments and perceived disagreements.
We Reveal A Lot When We Talk - We Need to Listen Too
We reveal a lot about ourselves in what we say and how we say it. As a result, if we listen to the other guy, they will tell us what they mean, their underlying concerns, and overall agenda. Sure, you say, “They are telling you already, aren’t they?” Often we try to achieve our goals without revealing our agenda in how we talk. But, embedded in all of those words is a message we can understand, only when we listen for it. Also, only when we understand the underlying message, can we have a meaningful discussion leading to concrete action.
Good Old Fashioned Guilt
Many years ago I read a book that was life altering for me, titled “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty”. Much of the book focussed on using active listening to achieve our objectives. The other half of the book concentrated on how to create boundaries to keep the other guy from manipulating us. This is most important when their goal is making us do something that could harm us. Thus, the heart of the message was that we should resist being bullied by guilt. By doing so, we avoid doing things that go against our better interests.
The book had a powerful impact on me. We need to listen. Also, we must express ideas in a way that supports our goals. The idea still resonates with me. Also, the message is just as important in guiding our climate discussions. Folks often try to manipulate us with good old-fashioned guilt. Often, we don’t actively listen to the other guy. But, we need to listen too to hear the real message, before we can move forward.
It’s Not About Guilt - We Need to Listen Too
To achieve our climate objectives, we must get beyond the guilt. In fact, resilience isn’t about feelings at all. Climate change poses a real physical threat to all of us. We are at risk, and that risk doesn’t care about our feelings. The threat remains.
When we deny climate risk, it is like denying cancer. I see people that pretend that cancer isn’t a risk, or if cancer is a risk, it’s trivial. They say:
"None of us get out of this life alive!"
By doing so, they convince themselves there is no cancer risk, and they are content. But, cancer is real and can get you no matter how hard your pretend it isn’t a threat. And, if it does, the pain and misery cancer causes is very real. This is not only about dying. Also, we must consider the quality of life. Ignoring risk doesn’t work!
This is the same for climate change. I contend the underlying message in most climate communication is fear. We tell each other about the fear when we talk, but we encrypt the message. We argue about “hockey sticks”, “climate plots”, and “oil company conspiracies”. However, none of this buzz is true. Folks are echoing words because the sound of those word soothes them. The words mask the underlying fear on both sides of the debate; fear of an unknown and uncertain future. But, to recognize the underlying message we have to stop talking. We need to listen too.
Listening is Important Too
We can identify ways to fix the climate problem. But, it all starts with knowing we are all afraid. Denial is a fear reaction and so is aggressive fighting to change behaviour. Often, while the overt messages seem in conflict, the underlying messages can be similar – “I am scared and I don’t know what to do!”
So, while changing our ways is critical, we can only achieve our goals when we pull together. We need to listen too.
We have a lot of work ahead of us to reach climate resilience, and we have done very little. There are solutions. We understand we must do. But, we need to listen too. Only then can we unearth the real messaging in the debate, come together, and work towards solutions.
Call To Action
Resiliency is a choice you can make today. So, make climate a core part of your business strategy!
You are not alone. We are here to help and we are listening. So, ask questions. Seek the advice of climate risk and resiliency experts. We all have something valuable to offer.
We provide ongoing commentary on these issues. Feel free to contact us, we are always happy to listen to your climate, risk and resiliency concerns.
More Posts by Joel
We are rapidly approaching the end of 2019. At the beginning of the year, Joan and I set a target … We will post one new blog every week this year. This video is our 51st posting this year and, I think the last one until the New Year.
Joan and I want to send out a huge thank you to all of you who travelled this journey with us this year. Your feedback and support made it all worthwhile. ...
This week I was somewhat preoccupied with sports. Perhaps in reaction to all the Grey Cup coverage over the last couple of weeks. I am not the biggest sports fan, but live in a place where sports can dominate the media, the news I read, and the radio I listen to. The highs and lows of sports offer welcome relief from the really serious stuff that normally preoccupies me, climate change. ...
Today, I want to discuss climate change dollars and sense.
Human caused climate change is real. Those of us that work in climate change have long since dealt with our doubts about it. In previous videos I shared some of my own struggles coming to grips with this. It is a big idea. The world is big and we are so small. How can the idea that we are causing climate change ever be credible?
In fact, IT IS an incredible idea, and a very scary one. Accepting it obligates us to do something. And this onus, adds further incentive to reject the idea outright. Most of us are pretty comfortable. We really like the way things are. Why should I accept any idea that demands that I change? ...
About the Author
President & CEO
Joel is an engineer and risk management specialist with over forty years of professional practice. He is committed to helping his clients achieve climate resiliency and sustainability.