By Anna Betz and Jane Pightling for Enlivening Edge Magazine
The role of transformative listening in transforming self and organisations
When both staff and patients have a lot of re-learning to do, we need to develop more advanced skills to listen more deeply to each other, to our own and each others’ values and motivations. We need to learn what it takes to use knowledge wisely to co-create health with individuals and communities.
Liberating creative potential encourages the emergence of new insights and practices which is evidenced by the newly formed Wellbeing Teams in the UK. The healing of our broken health and social care systems will require active support of self-care, facilitation of self-knowledge, and working in a highly relational way.
This work of healing is inseparable from the way we organise our larger systems of health and care.
Courageous and visionary leaders who really care for the system as a whole, and staff who are ready to live their values by working with patients in a way that is empowering, are starting to come together to co-create more dynamic organisational structures. The art of listening is central to this transformative work.
Initiatives such as Making Every Contact Count and Shared Decision Making and Health listen to citizens and support them to feel responsible for their own health, and to make lifestyle choices that will enable them to live the life they aspire to lead. This allows them to discover and keep doing what matters to them.
If we want to succeed in co-creating healthy systems and health-generating communities, we need to listen from a broader, less outcome-fixated perspective, and create together the conditions that become a fertile soil for the emergence of innovative ideas and practices. Professionals will need to redefine relationships with citizens, and to recognise that we can add value only if we co-produce a solution that recognises the citizen’s strengths, and focuses on what matters to them.
Similarly, our organisations need to redefine relationships with our communities. They need to learn to listen without trying to control outcomes, start giving space to communities, and intervene only when invited to help or requested to do things that the community cannot. In this article Anna discussed this aspect in more detail.
Jane lives and works in a community that is encouraging staff and citizens to embrace and participate in this new relationship as partners, spending time and resources listening to communities, and developing creative ways to support and provide what the community requests. This has meant developing learning opportunities and coaching for citizens with long-term conditions, co-facilitated by professionals and people with lived experience. It has involved diverting resources to enable citizens to set up groups and networks that meet their own needs.
For example, very small resources were required to start an outdoor activity group for dads and children wanting to improve their fitness or to provide a community meeting space for older people with mental health issues to talk and provide each other with support.
The setting up of groups and networks included diverting resources to fund a worker to work with homeless people, resisting pressure from the press and local politicians to “remove the problem quickly”. It meant working on the street, listening and waiting until the people themselves decided the time was right to change. It meant supporting the community to come together to develop town centre initiatives to connect existing resources and co-produce and co-implement a plan, securing new resources to provide accommodation and support people back into housing when they are ready.
To change the way we have been conditioned by our political, social and educational system to think about healthcare, organise, and deliver it, clearly requires new ways of understanding, designing, and providing it.
How can we discover an approach that is energising, revitalising, and enriching, one that builds on strengths and assets within and amongst individuals and communities?
It all begins with the quality of our listening and with allowing ourselves to be challenged and transformed by what we sense, hear, and feel called to do and manifest in our lives.
Allowing ourselves to be challenged without behaving defensively is connected to a certain quality of thinking or a mindset that we apply when we approach situations. What if the challenges we meet in our life and work are gifts to help us in discovering what else is possible? How can we learn to relate to our own experiences, to each other and to professionals in a way that is empowering and transformational?
Otto Scharmer calls the shift in mindset that enables us to connect with more of our human potential a shift in evolving human consciousness from habitual ego-system to eco-system awareness. An eco-system awareness is focusing not only on one’s own wellbeing but on the wellbeing of the whole which broadens the mindset and helps us to listen with more openness.
The authors Anna and Jane, along with Helen Sanderson, work in different roles in the health and care sector in the UK. We look forward to sharing with you at the Integral European Conference in May some of our experiences and practices, and we invite you to co-sense and co-discover with us where this journey could take us all.
If you are curious about the part you can play in re-inventing health and social care, why not register for the IEC2018 conference and join our two workshops on Friday 25th May? When you register to join the conference following this link don’t forget to mention that you are interested in the Teal Organizations Track.
Transformative listening for helping established organisations in health and social care going Teal
Discover methods and practices of transformative listening. Learn how to engage leaders of organisations curious about the future of organisations and work.
Teal in Health: Wellbeing Teams and Wholeness
Helen will share her journey in starting a new Teal organisation, Wellbeing Teams, and give lessons learned and practical ways that these teams are attending to Wholeness.
To continue the conversation and engage in action together join us at the conference following this link and remember to mention that you are interested in the Teal Org Track.
Part 2 of this article will be published soon.
Anna’s background is in Health and Social Care with training in Herbal Medicine, Socialwork, Mindfulness Practice, Transparent Communication, and Systemic Family Therapy. She practices a pro-active evolutionary approach to Health and Wellbeing and leads on projects in the UK National Health Service using Mindfulness and diet for people suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases like diabetes and dementia. Her passion for building thriving and sustainable communities inspired her to co-found the HealthCommonsHub. She feels at home in places where individual, communal, organisational, and social evolution meet, and where people support each other in becoming whole and feelenlivened.
Jane Pightling worked in the statutory sector for 25 years in the civil service, probation service, local authorities and NHS before stepping out earlier this year. She worked as a front line care provider, operational manager, programme manager, and improvement scientist before discovering the joy of organisational development and evolutionary approaches.She is currently enjoying her experience of working back into the system from a more autonomous position. Jane.firstname.lastname@example.org://uk.linkedin.com/in/janepightling