3. Listening: The Essential Skill

Listening is not passive. Every good book on listening says the same thing. Listening is actively engaging people in conversation: internalizing what they say, acknowledging it, encouraging them to elaborate, making them feel confident so they do elaborate.

Design, however, is run by an agenda, an objective with a plan for attaining it. The “innovationists*” will say that good ideas come from letting people explore. I say good ideas come from following a plan—establishing a framework for people to collaborate effectively and contributing ideas that support the goals. Nothing is more inspiring to me than hearing (and seeing) other people’s ideas. But those ideas must be relevant and appropriate to the assignment ...

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