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Listening with Curiosity


Once you have created a Cultural Health survey to help diagnose possible areas for improvement within your company, the second step is to really listen with curiosity to your responses. Often, getting negative feedback in a survey response can feel so overwhelming that particularly compassionate, empathetic employers shut down. This makes sense because we know how much time and energy we spend caring for our employees and worrying about them. To hear something negative from them can be intensely triggering. We know the sacrifices we make so that they can have a job and feed their family; we know the unpredictability of business income; we know which employees feel like an asset and which employees feel like a liability in our hearts. What if the negative feedback is just coming from whiners? Should we listen to that?

We don’t want to hurt our employees. We don’t want to be the bad guy. But some negative feedback just seems so unreasonable.

The question you need to ask yourself is whether it is worth it to you to find out about problems while they sound petty or unreasonable, so that you can prevent them from becoming systemic and fatal to your business.

A client who came to me to help her report sexual harassment worked for a non-profit that focused on advocating for a vulnerable population in the justice system. The work they were doing was important. I say “was” because the non-profit had no structure for diagnosing its own cultural health issues, even though it was active in advocating for others. Many women within the company felt they were expe