Leaders, Is Our Knowledge Too Noisy to Listen?

And 6 Tips To Quiet Noisy Knowledge!

Most leaders and teams hope their knowledge and experience will serve them well. We listen to it for guidance during uncertainty. Yet in times of change, is our knowledge too noisy to listen to new ideas?

Leaders, Is Our Knowledge Too Noisy to Listen to Change?




How can knowledge serve us and our teams well if it screams inside when new ideas don’t fit it? Consider that:

    Knowledge and experience are on a list of common listening barriers.


    Interesting recent study results from the University of Pennsylvania suggest people are biased against creative (new) ideas.






So what does it matter?



Key Concerns About Noisy Knowledge

    Is timely innovation in the workplace possible with bias against creative ideas that challenge existing knowledge?

    When knowledge and experience are a buoy during times of change, will people ease their grip on that buoy — early on — to listen and consider creative, innovative ideas?

    What are the risks of allowing noisy knowledge to slow or stop innovation? It happens and often in the shadows.



Quiet Noisy Knowledge With Awareness

  1. Bring the issue into the light with your teams. Start using the phrase “noisy knowledge” as a cue with yourself and anyone in the room who is not listening to new ideas.

  2. Position new ideas as new knowledge. If knowledge is the buoy, you can add more to the buoy instead of letting go of it. New knowledge is the buoy of security for continued success.

  3. Note aloud the emotional reactions to the new ideas. Then put aside the emotion to consider the substance of the ideas. By separating the emotion from the thinking, new ideas have a chance! “My emotional reaction is …, now let me consider the idea.”

  4. Ask yourself and others, how is my/your noisy knowledge impacting others, the business, and success? We are each responsible for the energy we bring to or drain from a workplace, a meeting, or a moment.

  5. Leaders, consider having everyone take a social styles indicator (Amiable, Expressive, Analytic, Driver) so that everyone can own their type and understand how others communicate. Communication styles affect listening!

  6. In advance of any major change initiative, help yourself and team members identify everyone’s change reactions. The KAI (Kirton Adaptive Innovation Inventory) is a great instrument to help each person see how open s/he is to change. Once known, then owned and managed!



The need for comfort and security is understandable. The need for timely change, inevitable. The pathway for both, around the noisy knowledge, is awareness, ownership, and communication.

What else would you add to overcome the barriers to listening to new ideas? What’s your #7 for this list?


With belief in everyone’s change-ability,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers consulting, training, DVDs, and keynotes that turn interaction obstacles into business success especially in tough times of change. See this site for workshops outlines and customer results. Lead change with vision, courage, and communication.

5 Responses to “Leaders, Is Our Knowledge Too Noisy to Listen?”

  1. Liz Weber says:

    Beautiful post Kate and oh so important. I tell my clients to become aware of their ‘clicker’ behaviors. Just as many people can not watch television without constantly clicking the remote every time they see or hear something they don’t like, many managers often ‘click’ their attention to someone or something else when faced with a new, challenging idea or differing opinion. Listening is an important leadership skill. Critical listening – that listens through differing perspectives – is imperative.

  2. Ditto for me, Kate. This is a great post. And I totally agree with Liz about listening and how important it is, especially during periods of dramatic change. If I were to add a #7 it might be, sometimes the Leader/Manager should shut the heck up!

    I once had a controlling boss who “observed” at a meeting, asked for input and ideas and then proceeded to pooh-pooh each idea that the attendees offered. I thought to myself, “Sir, you should be sitting in this room by yourself!” It was no surprise that people stopped offering ideas in support of the changes, just like a faucet shut off. Listen, let others speak and let their ideas catch some air.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Oh what a great story Bill. And your phrase … let the ideas catch some air — is a winner.

      Pleased that you found this post valuable and I welcome your insight/stories on any post here at Smart SenseAbilities.

      Happy weekend!
      Kate

  3. I can relate to what you are saying about separating emotions from ideas. It’s the emotional reaction people have to change that often prevents them from taking a chance and moving ahead.

  4. I would add ‘experience’ as No7.
    New ideas are often followed by “Oh we tried that before and it didn’t work”. Well maybe that’s true, but it could have failed for a number of unrelated reasons. If anything, it helps the person with the new ideas formulate an even better way to do things.
    Experience is not always knowledge, and knowledge doesn’t always come from experience.

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