Until people can listen, talk, observe, express, ask, answer, think and act appropriately, they will remain strangers in a strange land in which information is growing overwhelming and knowledge is only a few clicks away.
The society we live in becomes hyper-connected and interdependent; the more complex the situation is; the more different communication approaches are needed to reach for in-depth understanding. To put simply, the insight of a situation requires in-depth understanding. And such insight should lead us not only understanding, but also predicting; purpose-seeking, innovation-driven.
If you only listen, not speak, would you be perceived as “non-competitive”? Modern society is composed of cross-geographical, cross-industrial, cross-domain, and cross-devicing professionals with the very characteristics of hyper-diversity. From a management perspective, one of the biggest obstacles to running a high-effective organization is the disconnect and misunderstanding between different people, teams, functions with “he said, she said ” scenario. Business leaders and professionals should listen more; as listening is considered to be one of the most critical sub skills that comprise emotional intelligence.
In the traditional “command & control” if you only listen, not talk, would you be perceived as “non-competitive”? Talking is about sharing unique insight, cultivating a culture of participation, not for showing off and inflating egotism. Either individually or collectively, people need to go deeper; active listening is about being attentive, seeking the full meaning of what is being shared, giving attention to non-verbal communications, and listening with the intention of linking into the emotional spectrum in self and others, to capture insight from the conversation and lubricate professional relationships effectively.
If you only observe, not express, would you be defined as an “inefficient communicator”? People are complex, organizations are complex, and human societies are complex, there are both visible and invisible elements existing in our shared global space. Deep observation opens our mind to see underneath, perceive invisible, capture the words not being said, read between the lines. The best observations come from staying still and trying to understand what you’re observing is all about; staying a novice of some sort, keeping fresh eyes, with the beginner’s mind for spotting the differences from the sameness; identify commonality from diversity, and bring unique insights to make sound judgment. Observe, observe, observe more, through your cool head and sharp eyes. Then try to do the very things you’ve been observing because it will bring much more insights when you try to fiddle with it.
Under-observing, over-expressing perhaps makes one look superficial and causes miscommunication. Over analyzing what you observe might make one look trivial if not hitting the points. Not only observe deeply, but also be able to articulate what you observe accurately, make it worth the effort and become an efficient communicator. Cognitive science confirms that what you see depends very much on your goals and on what you concentrate on given the limited amount of working memory available. By observation, you recognize the patterns; by observation, you connect the things or people; by observation, you associate the best practices across the industrial or geographic boundary. Observation should always be one of the most critical steps in any change, innovation, and business transformation management scenario.
If you only answer, not ask, would you be defined as a traditional manager: The business paradigm is a shift from knowledge limitation to information exponentiality. The answer about yesterday is not as critical as the questions about the future. How to ask the right questions becomes the new skills that need to be sharpened and focused on, to define and solve the right problems effectively and co-create the better world collaboratively. Great inquiries like magnet, attract good feedback, unique viewpoints, updated knowledge.
If you only answer, not ask, your communication is one-way street, not empathetic; your answer might already be outdated; asking and answering accordingly is the balanced way to enforce effective communication. Leaders need to ask open-ended questions, initiate creative communication, and encourage open conversations. Take away the stigma and fear; proactively ask questions, challenge your own views, common beliefs, conventional wisdoms, always appreciate insightful opinions and fresh ideas.
Until people can listen, talk, observe, express, ask, answer, think and act appropriately, they will remain strangers in a strange land in which information is growing overwhelming and knowledge is only a few clicks away. Insight is not only about trying to “think outside the box,” but also an intuitive expression and alternative path that takes you wherever it needs to go, without boundaries, think beyond the surface, break through conventional understanding, enhance trust; become profound thinker and highly effective communicators to co-develop a better world.