Listen to learn in 2022: Five words you’ll hear next year

By Chad Carlton, Building Kentucky

Listening is a crucial part of communications.

If you don’t understand what your partner or a customer is saying, your messages and priorities may be viewed as off base, ill-timed or, worse yet, downright conflictual. If you’re not paying attention to what’s being discussed in boardrooms or committee meetings, it’s difficult to be part of the community conversation.

As we head into the New Year, resolve to listen more.

Think about the words you’re hearing frequently in discussions with colleagues, customers, friends and family. And use this insight to stay more on the mark, timely and additive in your communications.

Five words that you will hear in 2022

1. Talent

Workforce challenges will continue in the coming year. Finding “talent,” people who can do the job well and strengthen the team, will remain a top priority for many employers.

Expect more discussions about how targeted investments in education and workforce training can solve short-term shortages. But the real value will be long-term collaborations between educators and employers.

We’re seeing that statewide in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System with programs like KY TRAINS, a state funded initiative to reduce businesses’ training, recruitment and retention costs. KY TRAINS covers 75% of all expenses related to creating business-friendly, convenient, customized technical training curriculum. In Louisville, Jefferson Workforce Solutions is at the forefront of closing the talent gap, helping businesses of all sizes utilize KY TRAINS funding to improve their bottom lines and employee productivity. 

On its Louisville campus, MedQuest College also works with employers around the region to tailor its programs to best prepare students to meet the changing needs of healthcare facilities in the Commonwealth.

2. Technology

The reciprocal for talent is technology. Businesses, governments and non-profits will be talking more about shifting resources to investments in software, hardware and consulting firms to increase efficiency and get more done with fewer people.

Artificial intelligence, video and robotics will seep into our conversations and everyday lives. Listening more will help us understand how these technology tools are changing everything from education to manufacturing to entertainment.

3. Energy

The light switch is turning on – literally – as more people begin to understand how rapidly energy resources are shifting. The false fight between fossil fuels and renewable resources will continue, but more people will be talking about the continued need for both categories (renewables and non-renewables).

As companies like Ford Motor Co. make multi-billion investments in electric vehicles right here in Kentucky, it’s becoming clearer that we’re undergoing a once-in-a-century change in energy generation. The transition is likely to go faster than some assume because of private sector investment.

4. Infrastructure

The federal infrastructure bill will invest more than $550 billion in new investments in bridges, roads, water and energy systems, broadband and more. The real benefit is connecting communities and increasing resiliency in ways that will have decades-long improvement in economic development and quality of life.

In our region, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will collaborate with counterparts in Indiana and Ohio on some of the nation’s most important projects. Look for transportation talk to focus on:

  • Renovating the Brent Spence Bridge, the I-75 bottleneck between Cincinnati and Covington, and adding a companion bridge.
  • Completing the I-69 Ohio River Crossing at Henderson and Evansville, the crucial link that will expand a much-needed freight corridor that bisects Indiana and creates great economic opportunities for Western Kentucky
  • Finishing the Mountain Parkway Expansion, the widening work and safety improvements that will create a four-lane pathway from Pikeville to Paducah.

5. Compromise

We’re living in a time where division is commonplace and compromise is viewed as a weakness. Politics, race, gender, sexual orientation, rights, responsibilities, you name it.

How did we get to this place where compromise is a dirty word? Is our state motto, “united we stand, divided we fall,” as outdated and irrelevant as the frontiersman and statesman on Kentucky’s flag?

Perhaps we got here, in part, by listening only to people who look like us, think like us, have similar experiences, belong to the same groups.

In 2022, resolve to listen to different voices. Focus more on learning and understanding. Asking questions helps us see different points of view, gather information, consider alternatives, break away from assumed truths and arbitrary ways of thinking.

You don’t have to change your mind. However, listening a little more might help open new possibilities.

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