A newsletter on progress-space research and audience development for cultural leaders. One reader calls it, "sometimes funny"

How might we do a better job of listening to the people we'd like to support?

We want to make listening a priority, but listening is hard. Staff are happy to talk to visitors, but listening to them is a challenge. Maybe that's because listeners are learners, and we're much more comfortable being teachers.

We don't want to intrude.

Why does listening to visitors feel like an intrusion?

Maybe it's because we're trying to listen with an agenda.

If the conversation you're initiating is a survey in disguise — that is, if you have a conclusion in mind from the beginning — then you're more like a hunter stalking its prey. Of course you're going to approach with caution. You're pursuing your purpose, not trying to uncover their purpose.

So don't intrude.

Don't bring an agenda. Don't worry about "collecting data". Practice listening — Practice being curious.

We don't know what questions to ask.

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