Being listened to by those in power

Throughout my life, I have had the problem of not being listened to by those in positions of power.  At the same time, it has appeared to my mind why those in positions of power are wrong or could benefit from the ideas I want to share with them, but they are not open to listening.  Sometimes they just dismiss me, sometimes they are closed minded and not willing to listen, sometimes they are just not willing to put in the effort to read anything more than a Twitter-length explanation of something.  When they don’t listen, yet I think they are wrong, I then lose faith in those in power, become frustrated by them, become discouraged that things will never change, etc.  This has happened in many contexts of my life, professionally, personally and in the Dharma.

So what is at play here?

  1. The first thing to check is my pride.  Are my ideas genuinely right, or is it just my pride that makes me think they are?
  2. Next, I need to check my attachment to my own ideas.  It is very easy to become attached to one’s own ideas, and then frustrated when those ideas do not move forward.
  3. Next, I need to take the time to try see things from their perspective.  They are not resisting my ideas just because they are wrong and stubborn, but because of their world view accumulated through their own experiences which are different than my own.  Different people see issues differently depending upon where they are sitting.  Even the same person can view things differently by changing where they are sitting.  So I should try understand things from their perspective, not just reject their position from my perspective.
  4. Next, I need to improve my modes of communication and delivery.  Perhaps the problem is not the ideas, but how I am delivering them.  I need to learn to deliver them in a way that people can accept.  I should not deliver the message like an attack or I am breaking down the doors or that others are wrong, but rather work with people trying to help them, etc.

But if after all of that, I still feel like they are wrong but not listening, what should I do?  Why is this happening

  1. This comes from my negative karma of idle chatter.  When you say a bunch of nonsense, then people do not listen to you even when you do later have something valid to say.  So I need to purify this and stop engaging in idle chatter in any form.
  2. This comes from my negative karma of not listening to others when I have been in positions of power.  I have done the same things to others – not listening to them when I was wrong and could have benefited from what they had to say.  I need to purify this too and not make this same mistake again when I later assume positions of power.
  3. I need to accept the karma that is in play.  Karmic inertia is sometimes quite slow as it takes time for already activated karma to play itself out and for new karma to assert itself and become the dominant force.  I need to patiently accept this, and during this time I need to work on assembling the causes and conditions for the karma to actually change.
  4. I need to cease to be the perpetual outsider.  I always construct myself as an outsider when it comes to authority and power.  I construct myself as the unlistened to outsider who knows better.  I need to become an insider, but in the good sense, not the bad sense.  One of the reasons why I am an outsider is I find it easy to work on projects that are my idea, but I find it difficult to commit energy to other people’s projects.  Since I am unwilling to volunteer to help other people accomplish their projects, they do not let me ‘in’ to a position of greater power.  So I remain an outsider.  I need to learn to help those in positions of power accomplish their vision and their projects, then they will naturally want to bring me in.  The goal here is not to become a sychophant, but to become a productive, contributing member of the team.  To make this transition, I need to contemplate the worthiness of the projects that they are working on, come to appreciate them myselves so that I want to contribute to them, then I volunteer. 

3 thoughts on “Being listened to by those in power

  1. KR,

    I just want to tell you i feel thanks full,
    in my mind you sound so clear…
    is like if Dharma flows very natural from your words…
    my English is not so good,i hope i may
    explain what i mean, it is a heart breeze to open your posts.
    : )

  2. Oh my Buddha!

    What a fantastic post. I can totally relate to that, such miraculous timing!

    I’m engaged in a ‘battle’ at work. The people who review my work are calculating almost all of my percentages incorrectly. This means that i’m the one who comes off looking incompetent. So there’s been big meetings with Human Resources to get to the bottom of it. Being under constant scrutiny is good for the soul and great for annihilating pride.

    Trying to talk to a brick wall is frustrating. Today before the meeting i ‘took on’ a vice president and his senior. Although they are both evidently wrong and i can prove it this does not matter. Their position ensures that i have to eat it. No one likes being told they are wrong,or proven wrong, the need to be right is linked to an all pervasive pride.

    I have loads to say on this matter but i’m in danger of idle chatter ha ha! will i ever learn??

    Hope all goes well, thanks!

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