I recently wrote a post recommending a new approach to listening. This post attempts to concisely explain a kind of surface listening I see around me often. I call it “lip service listening”.
Briefly, it is when someone realizes they should be listening to another person’s ideas, and they want to show they are listening by outwardly amplifying that work, but in reality they have not deeply absorbed the work or engaged with the ideas. Person A is the listener. Person B is the person whose idea they pay lip service to.
- Person A constantly includes Person B in Twitter lists of people they appreciate but never engage with their ideas in specific ways, like actually quoting something they wrote
- Person A cites Person B’s work in articles but after the citation, proceeds to ignore person B’s ideas in the rest of the article. It *looks* as if Person A has cited Person B, but it is a technical citation. Ticking a box. Not a real engagement with the ideas. Occasionally, this includes misappropriation or misunderstandings of Person B’s ideas (so actually looks like engaging with the ideas but actually does not use them the way Person B intended. Tricky one).
- Person A invites Person B to be part of a group or team. But the team continues to work exactly as they have before person B came, which makes it difficult if not impossible for Person B’s different ideas to be included or integrated at all
The funny thing is that Person A is probably genuinely recognizing the importance of engaging with person B’s ideas, but unable to go beyond the surface and it’s a tokenizing type of listening and a showing off of their ability to listen. Like, that they need to give evidence that they listened. Hence the lip service.
Bet you have seen this quite a bit, eh?