Here, we HEAR!


Asma Zaineb
says that listening is an effective way to forge a strong relationship with the other person or persons engaged in a conversation. It involves three steps:

  • Receiving the message communicated by the sender
  • Interpreting it for arriving at the meaning and
  • Responding to the message.

Any coach or FSS provider knows these three steps, and we know how important they are.  But sometimes in the course of a busy week, we forget.  It took a statement from a colleague far outside the coaching and FSS profession to remind me of the importance of listening.

Hear-HEARI was looking for a cute tag line to add to our correspondence.  It was to be a marketing technique, really, just a line to remind Family Self-Sufficiency participants of the importance of letting us know about their progress towards their goals. “Something catchy and memorable,” I told everyone, “to remind residents to contact us when they’ve accomplished something.”

It was a fun exercise.  Several of my colleagues in the office offered great suggestions, which we saved for future use. But the winner came from our Director of Security.  Paul Daley, Director of Security for the Brockton Housing Authority, suggested more than one tag line, but his slogan that we liked best is “Here, we hear.”

That about says it all.

The Leadership for Success Institute, a not-for-profit organization in Toronto, Ontario, notes that we have been blessed with two ears and one mouth, so we are supposed to use them proportionally.

And so I can’t help wondering:

How much more effective would we be if we remembered to listen carefully?

How much more in touch with themselves would our Participants be, if we modeled this technique?

Would they stop missing out on important knowledge?  Would we?

Prasann Ranade  says that “Empathic listening allows one to broaden one’s perspective and expose themselves to new ideas.”  

What’s the one thing you would like your residents to know?

End of the rope.

End of the rope.

­There’s been a lot of talk lately about term limits for Public Housing. The idea is to help families use low income housing as a hand-up instead of a hand-out.  Which would mean families would need to use their time residing in Public Housing to work towards the sort of goals that would allow them to fully support themselves. As FSS staff, many of us know something about this.

While some programs struggle with a way to define “suitable employment,” others rely on an economic standard that is measurable.  In fact, HUD already uses such a standard.  Very low income, low income, and moderate income guidelines are published yearly and HUD pro-rates these guidelines depending upon the family’s geographic area and family size.

“Suitable Employment,” then, is employment that supports the family without government assistance.  If we help a family reach this goal, we have really helped them to move into a specific income bracket.

This goal is doable, of course.  And it is measurable and attainable.

But seeking and maintaining employment of any nature can be tricky for some families.  Things get de-railed on too many levels and in too many areas.  Which is when we decided to look outside the FSS box to see how other industries help their constituents attain a purposeful and meaningful occupational role in society that allows the individual to fully support themselves and their dependents.

So what one teachable thing could help a resident, who for the first time, might be learning;

  • Employment skills,
  • Job retention skills,
  • English for Speakers of other languages,
  • Literacy skills,
  • Technology skills,
  • Freedom for Addiction skills,
  • Parenting skills,
  • Decision-making skills for life situations,
  • Relationship skills for strong and healthy inter-personal relationships,
  • And all the rest.

A lot of folks claim that developing and strengthening an individual’s Emotional Intelligence is the key to success in any endeavor.  Steve Hein maintains that Emotional Intelligence is what we need most in the world today. You can find loads of tests on the internet to help you figure out your EI.

Why the fuss about emotions and feelings?  “While we often associate emotions with personal matters such as relationships and family, the fact is they play a critical role in the business world-and can actually make or break careers,” according to Andrea Zintz, Ph.D., president of Strategic Leadership Resources.

Daniel Coleman has made an entire career on the subject and believes EI is a stronger indicator of life success that a person’s IQ.  And there are more.  The field is almost too prolific to ignore.  So maybe building in a little EI in our Family Self-Sufficiency work could help.  It certainly couldn’t hurt!