Use your eyes and ears twice as much as your mouth…

The Badger listened to a radio interview with David Coulthard this week. David is an ex Formula 1 racing driver and now a commentator for the sport. The Badger’s ears pricked up when he told the interviewer that he wished he knew what he does now when he was 20 years old. Don’t we all! David felt it was important to pass on his knowledge gleaned from experience to help his young son when he had to join the workforce in due course. David believed that younger generations were finding it more and more competitive to join the workforce in their chosen career, and that having knowledge passed on by their parents could be nothing but helpful. This resonates well with the objectives of this website, which is now 1 month old. The Badger took some comfort that the site’s objectives are not misplaced!

Immediately after the Coulthard interview there was an interview with a politician who was articulate, precise, remarkably objective and very clear about what they said. Later in the day there were snippets from this interview in the media. The Badger sighed at some of the distortions and wondered if anyone had really listened rationally and objectively to what was said!

There’s a famous saying attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus. It says we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we can speak. Indeed, one of the Badger’s leadership colleagues often used this saying in meetings with direct reports and wider presentations to staff to remind people of the importance of listening. The Badger, however, believes in an extended version of the Epictetus saying, namely ‘we have two ears and two eyes, so we can listen and see twice as much as we speak’. The Badger’s experience is that people who listen closely, observe behaviours and read the facts, and rationalise all these inputs before they open their mouth to speak, make quality decisions, tend to succeed in their task, and build reputations for objectivity, integrity and fairness. Those that shoot from the hip often struggle to build trust and respect and ultimately fail.

Of course, business, politics and project delivery are full of situations to be handled. So, if you want to get to the bottom of, and ultimately turnaround, whatever situation you’re facing, then always devote twice as much time to listening closely, observing behaviours and assimilating the facts, before analysing the right thing to do and speaking to direct the correct action. That way you’ll do the best for your organisation, yourself, and for others. The ‘others’ bit is important – business and project delivery difficulties are, after all, rarely the fault of one person.

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