Listening is essential; so is speaking

I call my grandmother every week and talk about how things are going. Yesterday, we were talking about el crisis de julio. I told her about the meeting that I went to with a group of patients to meet with the authorities from the department of health. The meeting was supposed to be an opportunity for the authorities to explain to the patients rationally why they wanted to pursue the chosen course of action. One official in particular continually lied about the clinic and the staff that worked there. His comments had crossed the line of simple political posturing, so I called them what they were to his face: lies.

My grandmother told me that it’s best to be diplomatic in situations like the one I found myself in.  I told her that diplomacy is great but sometimes you need to point out that the emperor has no clothes on. No amount of euphemisms does anyone good. For a current example, look at how mainstream media is struggling to deal with the blatant and continued lies of the McCain/Palin campaign.

Any article or author that addresses social media almost certainly emphasizes the importance of listening, which is a really critical skill for taking advantage of the power of social media. There are countless tools to use to stay involved in conversations that concern your personal and organizational interests.

There does come a point where you should speak up. The circumstances may create that perfect storm of awareness, dedication, and resources that enable major changes. It may be a question of addressing injustice or moving the general public from complacency to action. You could put a spotlight on global poverty as an election year issue or highlight the human impact of living on one dollar a day. Knowing when and how to make yourself heard is a critical skill for moving from ideas to action.

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