The other day I was really early for a meeting at a well-known and popular business restaurant in town. I took a seat where I could have full view of the door, just in case my client storms in and we miss one another. So by the way, this has happened and we spend like 10 minutes waiting for each other in the same place. None the less, at some point in time I was just very aware of the noise of business people meeting, guys laughing and cutlery cluttering as people were served their meals. Somewhere in the background a song were playing, barely audible above the noise and I was deeply struck by the words of the song. Who would think that in this busy place I would find this personal moment. This made me think at how many times we encounter a lone voice in a busy place that only some, being well tuned in, would pick up on.
So what does it mean being well tuned in? Well I think it relates to your willingness to listen and that does not only applies to your ability to hear, but the ability to really focus on the message and allowing it to be internalised. The experts would tell you of all the barriers that is working towards hampering your tune-in-ness, if I can use this term, and honestly there is a lot more working against you than for you when it comes to listening.
But it is about attitude more than it is about skill. I realised that so often I hear but do not listen, and that is not a reflection on the messenger, the noise or anything other of the many barriers I can blame, but due to my inability to change gears. Sometimes so lost in what I am doing or what I am thinking that I totally lose what was said. Moving gears from my own world to the world of the person bringing the message helps, but needs to be done consciously and with great speed. AND speed is something I do not have a hurry up is becoming a lot harder the older I get. So many debates between myself and my husband lately on what was said and what was not makes me sometimes wonder if we are indeed living in the same house.
It is therefore with humility that I come to you as project managers today, not as somebody that have mastered the skill, but somebody that failed many times and have seen the consequences of a wrong listening attitude. The importance to recognise the messenger and to focus on what is being said can never be underestimated. Learn to stop working, turn to look the person in the eye and to listen and absorb.