Jerome Groopman, in his book, “How Doctors Think” says that it is widely understood by Doctors that the best source of understanding of a patient’s ailments is, of course, the patient. Over the course of a five to ten minute consultation the Doctor will find out many aspects of the ailment, sufficient for him to offer a reliable diagnosis. However, on average the time taken from when the patient starts speaking to when the Doctor interrupts with his opinion is 18 seconds.
This could also apply to leaders, managers or in fact to any of our relationships with friends, partners and our children.
Tom Peters (Author of In Search of Excellence), believes that seven out of every eight managers are 18 second managers, i.e. I have seen this before, the answer is, you should do.
How about you, are you an 18 second manager, partner or parent?
Tom says, “I have come to the conclusion that the single most significant strategic strength of an organisation can have is not a good strategic plan but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organisation. Strategic listening to front line employees, vendors, customers.”
He goes on, “The number one core course in Tom’s MBA programme is going to be a two part, six month programme called Strategic Listening One and Strategic Listening Two. The reality is that you can teach listening, you can get better at listening, there is no issue about that. But guess what, it is like playing the piano, becoming an actor, like becoming an artist, it is a profession that has to be learned. It is my opinion as a leader or as a team member that to a significant degree your profession is listening. So think about it, are you an 18 second Manager? I bet you are!”
So how about you, are you an 18 second manager, partner or parent?
Prime Minister’s Questions – a lesson in not listening?
I was not surprised to read this week that a number of MPs have decided that ‘enough is enough’ and not to attend Prime Minister’s Questions because as Commons Speaker John Bercow put it, “the histrionics and cacophony of noise are so damaging as to cause them to look elsewhere”.
I feel it echoes much of what is wrong with so many conversation, either in business or personally, we simply do not listen well enough. We rarely regard the other as an equal, see them as a fellow human being or believe that what they have to say is important. Furthermore, in not listening, we do not give the other person the time to think and to really open up and share their true worth and value. If we did we would be astonished at what we would find out.
Imagine if when the Minister speaks everyone in The House gives them their full attention, did not interrupt, and did their best to take in all that person was saying, i.e. listening with their ears, eyes and their heart. Then maybe the way politics was portrayed would be more interesting to everyone, particularly the younger generation who are not that interested in politics or positively impressed with MPs at all.
How would your paying full attention to the person in front of you make a real difference to the relationship?