What Did You Say?

So, I am experiencing one of my more esoteric moments, thinking about macro issues and how they impact my everyday life at work.

As many of you know, I am a TED (the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference) freak. I love to listen to the podcasts, love to share the knowledge with my friends and am also fortunate enough to be asked to attend this year.

There was one podcast in particular that I came across last week that I have been going over and over in my mind. It had to do with listening.

In 1971, John Francis witnessed an environmental catastrophe that began a journey that lasted 22 years. During those 22 years, he walked, trekked and sailed around North and South America, delivering a message of respect for the Earth. What is most fascinating is not that he did it all on foot, but that for 17 of those 22 years, he was totally silent. And by the way, he earned an M.A. in environmental studies and a Ph.D. in land resources -- all without speaking a word.



Now, I am not suggesting that we all take a vow of silence, but it would be great if we stop and think about what it means to really listen. Every day, we ask people to listen -- listen to the words, ever so carefully scripted -- in TV advertising, to listen to us when we are telling them about the best campaign, the best product, the best service, the best way to save their business, the best way to woo customers, the best interactive application, the best new gizmo or gadget that will save the future of television and advertising. But do we ever really listen to the answers? The feedback? The other person's point of view?

Over the last week, I have made a conscientious effort to listen, not just keep silent waiting for my moment to offer a rebuttal, to offer my opinion, to persuade others of "the better way."

And what I have finally heard is miraculous: If you really take the time to listen, the answers are self-evident. Clients give you the tools to build the winning argument; they will come to the same place as you if you ask more than you preach. In these tumultuous economic times, when markets and futures are uncertain, clients will look to us for help, for understanding, for tolerance and for guidance. We just need to clam up long enough to hear them.

1 comment about "What Did You Say?".
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  1. Tim Mccormick from McCormick Fields, December 19, 2008 at 10:01 p.m.

    The power of engaged listening.
    Taking time to contemplate.
    Clients need to be heard.
    To observe the sound of one hand blogging.
    Perceptive posting.
    Thank you.

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