Much of what we believe has little to do with what we read, watch and discuss or even upon which set of facts we stake our opinions.

Our world views are shaped by other things, including whether or not we lived in a big city or a small town, have watched sports on television, ever lived below or near the poverty line, buy mass-produced beer or have ever worked in a factory.

I recommend an interesting survey by the Public Broadcasting System’s “News Hour.”  It’s called “Do you live in a bubble?” and takes about five minutes to complete. It attempts to explain why people of different economic classes (especially those born into families with money and who have lived most of their lives in wealthy communities) have trouble understanding one another.

Why does it matter?

Because so many of us want to believe that people who see the world differently are ignorant, wrong-headed…or worse.

Understanding the reasons why others see things differently can help us become better listeners — and better communicators.

As someone who grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Queens, worked in a big city brewery throughout college, and lived in the South, the Mid-Atlantic, the Midwest and New England, I know I see the world a little differently from someone born in a small farm town in Mississippi or a wealthy family living on the Main Line near Philadelphia.

The 64 I scored on the survey sounds just about right.

Remember that communicating effectively starts with being a good listener. And being a good listener means knowing something about your audience — either the handful across the lunch table or the roomful of business colleagues.

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Bob Unger  508-542-1252

Barbara LeBlanc  603-486-8760