Why not listening deeply is likely to get you killed!

September 16, 2016

I want you all to imagine this scene being played out in HD and THX sound. You’re sitting in a conference room high above the city skyline. You’ve just had your fill of a delightful brunch served up by a Cordon Blue chef who was specially flown in by the host for just this event. Everyone sitting in the room has a nett worth exceeding USD$100 million. Every single person in the room wants a thick slice of the action….that’s how it’s going to go down.

A man in a very ill fitting expensive suit is throwing out PowerPoint frames fast and furious at the far end. From time to time he punctuates his presentation with a rah rah you jump and we all jump tag line, ‘all we have to do is load dirt into a lorry and keep on doing that 24/7 and we will all be rich.’

He repeats this on every change of the third frame.

Everyone in the room is bullish. They’re all locked and loaded. Everyone has their foot stuck on the accelerator pedal…they’re not even holding back one millimeter.

You see sometimes a sweet deal comes right along and it’s in the nature of everyone to want a seat….that’s really how it is when the deal is package exactly like 40% proof alcohol – it’s goes right up to the head.

Everyone is ready set to go to whip out their cheque books to write off six figures in anticipation to reap a ROI of seven figures.

But here comes the rub. Not a single man in the room has ever set foot in Africa before….No maybe one. A man seated in the shadows chain smoking. He leans forward momentarily and just at that moment his hard and implacable features stand out sharply in relief like cut granite…he’s looking straight at me with that ‘let’s get out here while we still have legs to walk out.’

I flash him a look of quiet complicity.

You see it’s really simple. Those people in that room simply don’t have any idea of the complexity of conducting trade and commerce in the dark continent….and worst of all they don’t seem to want to listen…I’ve seen this before…it’s a bloody recipe for disaster.

Of course. I was very polite to hatch some excuse as I slinked quietly away mid way during the presentation. The stranger got up and did the same shortly. After all it’s a kamikaze deal….a one way ticket.

It’s so very clear to me…what’s left on the table…I am likely to wing it all alone on this one. This will mean the deal probably has to be micro sized to fit my limited budget. But at least with this model…I am sure to reap a modest profit and most importantly come out safely thru the other side.

As for the deal before me. I need it like I need liver cancer!

I am outta here!

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‘Never get a sheep to do a foxes job. Never! Not if you’re serious about good results. That rule of thumb is virtually axiomatic in business and everything else. But more importantly keep steadfastly to the cardinal rule – the discipline to listen deeply and to ask intelligent questions.

I am not talking about the 20 question repertoire to show off to others what a smarty pants you are. I mean questions that can hopefully allow you string those answers to connect the vital dots and to assemble a picture – questions that allow the team you’re leading to sink their teeth into…questions that can lead to answers to allow you to crunch numbers and derive at where X marks the spot – questions that will enable you to profile the best informed decision under any given set of circumstances.

The way I see it. If you do just this alone and even should you fail, then you’ve done your due diligence and your very best. No man has a right to pin the blame on you not even should you take a fall….as that’s how it goes at this level of the game.

I understand…I understand completely that doesn’t half cut the pain of failure, but it certainly takes off enough of the edges to remind you and others that you have done the best you can…..deep listening is unfortunately the most underrated skill set not only in business, but life in general.

That’s because most people make the mistake of least mental resistance by equating talking well with competence…comfidence and progress….I don’t for one moment deny this is true to some extent. But my point is those aspects of high performance needs to always be balanced with deep listening skills for them to acquire a meaningful edge.

When one cultivates the art of listening deeply, it always pays out loads of dividends….it doesn’t matter who you are practicing this skill set on. It could be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company…a tailor…bicycle mechanic or just some hippie that’s working part time in an outdoor adventure shop selling specialized climbing ropes.

In almost every case without a single exception whenever I make the effort to quieten down during a conversation and sharpen my deep listening skills I am ALWAYS learning, accumulating knowledge that I previously did not have or realized I held on to incorrectly.

Streaming all of yourself to listen deeply instead of babbling away monotone like a motor mouth – sends out the clearest message, you are genuinely interested in the objects of interest that the other side is passionate about….it’s the art of connecting meaningfully with others.

This to me is the highest level of respect and consideration you can possibly accord to others…above all it allows you the rare opportunity to see the world slightly differently from the way you have always seen it.

Not listening deeply can however land one in big trouble, especially when you have a bunch of delusional businessmen planning to make it big in Africa by just listening to confirm what they have already decided p….not realizing all they’re really doing is playing deadly game of Russian roulette during amateur hour…that’s really not my sort of game.’

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