Listening

 

Friday, May 18, 2018

My daughter, Charlotte, who is six years old and in kindergarten, is a confident child. However, in the few weeks leading up to UTC’s annual conference, she had a stomach bug and some ongoing stomach issues, which, I think, diminished her normal confidence and resilience while at school such that she started to have some “issues” with her classmates. While I think these issues had been there all along, my guess was that her physical discomfort left her more susceptible to the slight mean girl nature of most kindergarten girls.

It came out that one of her friends was covering her ears every time Charlotte would try to talk to her. My immediate, and unstated, reaction to this was, “the little snot.” But I refrained from saying that out loud for obvious reasons, but also because I realized that Charlotte might be doing the same thing to her friends. I decided, instead, to contact the school counselors, let them know about the situation, and have them meet with Charlotte, which they did. In the voicemail report I got, the “hands over her ears” little girl also had some concerns about Charlotte, so they brought them both into the counselors’ office and had them hash it out – reminding them to be kind and to keep their hands off their ears while so doing. They left the conversation with some strategies for interacting with each other in a more productive way going forward.

This whole episode: 1) reminds me that everything you need to know you really did learn in kindergarten (I think I’ll reread that book); and 2) our recent UTC policy resolutions process, culminating in the membership’s consideration of nine resolutions and passage of eight, was a figurative representation of the “hands off the ears” lesson the counselors taught my child and her friend. Our utility voting members had the opportunity to listen to each other and to discuss the important issues under consideration related

to their information and communications technology networks. While one issue remains contentious and the resolution related to that issue – discussing the 900 MHz rebanding proposal pending at the FCC and its relative merits – was sent back to the Public Policy Division for further discussion and action, the entire proceeding was a big step forward for UTC demonstrating a membership that was in active listening and engagement mode. Even the contentious issue has caused our members to “take their hands off their ears” and listen to each other’s needs and concerns.

Thank you to our members for their willingness to listen to each other, to Dewey Day, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Chair of the Public Policy Division, for running the resolutions portion of the membership meeting, to Sharla Artz, UTC’s VP of Government Affairs, Cybersecurity and Policy, and Rob Thormeyer, UTC’s Director of Communications and Advocacy, for working through all of the processes leading up to the meeting, and to the UTC Board for trusting me when I suggested this process be developed as part of our Strategic Membership Plan. The bottom line is, while we will continue to improve the process and outreach to the membership going into 2019’s policy resolutions consideration at the annual conference in Fort Worth, I know that the “hands are off the ears” of our members and we are demonstrating professionalism and engagement with each other…until we meet again.