The One Thing You Should Keep In Mind This Thanksgiving

A few weeks ago, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal called Barry-Wehmiller’s corporate office in St. Louis. She wanted to know what we were doing about conflict in our plants and workspaces around the election.

Barry-Wehmiller is a global company with locations around the world, but the core of our business is in the U.S. As we have acquired — or adopted — companies, teammates in Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Colorado, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and many other states, have become part of our family. Naturally, our people have a wide range of views, backgrounds and socioeconomic situations.

If there's one thing we should all keep in mind this Thanksgiving, it's to remember to listen. Click To TweetHonestly, though, we really didn’t have much to say to the reporter. Not that some conflict or tension doesn’t exist — people are people after all. How should we handle that conflict? As we strive to in most situations: just as a caring family would. We would encourage our people to listen to each other. Throughout our companies that is one thing on which we place a lot of emphasis. We even teach a class on listening through our Barry-Wehmiller University.

Before and after Election Day, there have been a wide-range of emotions about our current political climate. Because tensions are running so high right now, this Thanksgiving could be a time when families are divided, undermining the reason we are gathering in the first place.

If there’s one thing we should all keep in mind this Thanksgiving, it’s to remember to listen. Listen to your family, your friends, to anyone you encounter this holiday season. It’s not just a trite, simplistic solution to conflict. When you listen to another person, really listen to them, you are validating them. You are helping them feel like they matter. It completely changes the nature of the conversation and of our understanding of each other.

I’d like to share a post I wrote two years ago during a time of turmoil and tension in St. Louis. I feel just as strongly about the transformative power of listening now as I did then. Read it here:

Moving the Needle

This post also appears on Bob Chapman’s LinkedIn page. Connect with him there today!

Truly Human Leadership is found throughout Barry-Wehmiller Companies, where Bob Chapman is Chairman and CEO. A $3+ billion global capital equipment and engineering consulting firm, Barry-Wehmiller’s 12,000 team members are united around a common belief: we can use the power of business to build a better world. Chapman explores that idea in his Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring For Your People Like Family, available from Penguin Random House.


  • David Bragg says:

    For the past five years, the love of my life needed one thing more than anything. She required of me the time to simply listen to her. She had suffered a stroke five years earlier and her life and mine had an opportunity to change. In order for me to give her whatever she needed, I had to listen…to her.
    As her body fought against life, understanding her needs, listening to her, we were able to make life all it could be, in a most positive way. We never let the ‘pain’ of life take away the things we could overcome.

    When i reflect on the pain this Country has gone through, it is not different than my personal opportunities. As a people we need to listen with our hearts. We can easily see the pain our fellow neighbors are struggling with. It is certain that words are not always necessary. Simply listen.

  • Russ Rowgo says:

    Normally the last thing I’d want to do is wade into this political quagmire, but something Bob mentioned triggered me to respond.

    I too have been sucked into heated discussions – no, rather debates with those in my family that I love. What a difference in attitudes a few days can make. But the idea of listening is so important I must stress it again. Normally it seems just a simple idea – one that we all should know without being reminded. But I realized something pivotal during the election aftermath – everyone of us has a voice and wants it to be heard. I believe this is common no matter who you are. Having gone through the emotional minefield and come through to the other side is possible if we truly listen to others and their viewpoints – even if we don’t necessarily align with them. It’s all about valuing the other person and their voice.

    Let’s take advantage of this difficult time to build and restore strained relationships not with harsh words, but with an understanding ear.

  • Brian Rynn says:

    In my lifetime I have learned to listen and listened to learn. This has been one of the most important lessons I have used when dealing with everyone I touch.

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