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FROM UNDERSTANDING TO LISTENING - A CEO'S PERSPECTIVE

Monday, 20 June 2016

I published a blog earlier this year asking if businesses do listen, and whether they understand? Encouragingly I had a number of responses reinforcing that people out there were, and that they cared enough to respond.

This year our company has really progressed. We are moving on and growing. To us though, these still remain critical questions although we know that some businesses may not care. Only today, we have seen highlighted in the national press a high profile case of an international business that perhaps did not, and has had to apologise profusely.

Even in the “pile it high, flog it cheap” world, what can “not listening” do to a brand, and ultimately their share price? Many of us will remember Gerald Ratner’s infamous remark about what he as the business owner felt about the quality of the product he was selling, a product we, the buying public were then buying in not insignificant volumes- but how quickly that changed. Remind me? Where is that brand now?

Listening is vital but portraying our true selves to our customer, colleague, applicant, neighbour is fundamental. The DNA of you, your authentic true self. This is where we start, the base upon which our business is founded, the glue that holds us together, the message that is within us like the stick of rock. This is why our people work for us, not necessarily for the money but the intangible something else.

Get this authenticity right, the message strong, easily understood and well delivered and your business will be strong. Knowing yourself, your values and what you believe in and you will also start to stand out from the crowd. This is so important in this busy world where it is easy to not to be heard or seen, even given all the marketing toolkits available to use. People will start to find you, important new customers who will allow you to grow. Amazing really.

Authenticity may be the base, but in isolation is this enough? This represents only part of our journey. For us, integrated into listening, is a personal approach.

Everyone talks about doing this but is this actually done? To stand out again, really consider whether you are offering a truly personal service, out of the ordinary, going that extra mile to make the customer, your colleague truly satisfied. They would refer you then easily and with full trust at every opportunity to all their best contacts, perhaps?

Do you remember birthdays, or even better, their partner’s or children’s birthday? Is a client a friend, someone you would trust implicitly, or just a client? The same with a work colleague- do you really know them, have you ever asked them a personal question without being seen to invade their personal space?

Buddhism teaches enlightenment, but our journey takes us through to understanding. This is the deep understanding we arrive at when we truly listen, using all the senses and not just one of them as it describes the whole. Where can you go when you put them all together, what goals can you achieve? But is it goals (what does happen when you achieve them?) that are important or your vision, something you can have today rather than waiting say 10 years to achieve this.

As before, good news travels fast but usually arrives at a small trot, but as with Mr Ratner, bad news gallops out very fast indeed! Take the time to get these simple steps right and I would be interested to know how you preform. This is the journey we are taking at our business from authenticity, through to personal and on to understanding.

We are benefiting, starting to stand out from the crowd, be found in this ever increasingly busy marketplace and you can do the same. As we progress, we hope you do the same and would be delighted to share your experiences as you grow too.

Ewan Dodds, CEO at Whybrow.

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