Article (November-2018)


Has anyone heard me lately (!)

Dr. Vinayshil Gautam

Designation : -   Internationally Acclaimed Management Expert. Chairman, DK International Foundation

Organization : -  


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Anyone who has spent 50 years in a profession will have something to say about his experiences, stages of learning, experiments with reality and obviously some insights which that person may have developed. The art lies in picking the right time, the right audience and the right medium. This cannot be programmed or taught. The writer of these lines like many else with such background has experimented with many genres of expression which include miming, acting, role playing, lecturing, group discussion and the list can go on. He is convinced that, if one wants to be 'heard' few things work better than writing.
Writing has many advantages not the least of which is the shelf life. The second advantage is the reader has the opportunity to pretend he understands it all with actually doing so; tune off whenever he wants and no one will ask him why. Similarly, a writing is a writing only when it is read. Hence it creates a relationship but there is no bondage. Like any relationship, it will survive only when it is voluntary. Hence, the urge to be heard has to be tempered with the good sense of finding an audience.
In his earlier years, the writer of these lines when as a trainer facilitator, would say that few want to listen and most want to talk, it would always generate a very animated exchange of views. The writer was able to convince his audience with the simple experiment which he urged them to carry out.
It went in the following manner : When you go out of this room, think of a story which was important to you, say an accident. Assuming that it was an accident which involved a simple act like, slipping on a staircase. When in company of three or four people, try to narrate the accident. The chances are more than likely that even before the narrator has completed four or five sentences, somebody would interrupt with his own experience of hitting a vehicle and before that narration is over, somebody else is interrupting the narrative of how he cut his hand. So the chain will continue and almost no one would be able to complete his story without multiple interruptions by well - meaning people who don't even realise that they are actually upstaging.
Well might somebody ask, "Has someone heard me lately?"
To keep the records straight, communication is an area where much work has been done. For example, it is well recognised that people don't evaluate the content as much as the source of information. It is also true that people will, often, hear what they wish to hear. They will interpret through misunderstanding, fitting the symbols to their prejudices and so the conversation derails.
It is obvious that the list of life skills begins with ability to listen honestly so that the full meaning of what is being said is grasped. Without this it is just babble and a creation of noisy sounds.
Hence it is that active listening is at the core of all relationships and indeed all efficiency efforts. Talking of efficiency conjures many images and one of them is of organisations. People have also read 'personalities' in organisational frame. There is a book by Manfred entitled, 'Neurotic Organisations'. The thought is so obvious that it belies elaboration. Organisations clearly have personalities and now more people are talking of organisation change than ever before.
The nature of organisations has also entered the virtual arena. Put simply, there are virtual organisations. Be that as it may, the problem of talking and listening continues to rankle in many environments.
As digital way of life becomes more pervasive, for a of communication tends to become more elusive.
Consider for example, talking to a computer. One will be referred to FAQs. There boundary is drawn by the imagination of the author. It is helpful, so far as it goes but clearly, nothing more than that. Helplines manned often by unemployable, lowly paid incumbents don't provide answers with any comprehensiveness to real life instances of business usages. Often, sites become in - operational and will remain that way for an unknown number of hours. There is no body to talk to. Total dependency on the electronic system can not only be hazardous but can evoke havoc.
One can understand that the electronic medium hasn't evolved yet, to that level of maturity. What however, one cannot understand is sector after sector being pushed into the digital domain, without real choices, almost in a conspiratorial manner. The inexplicable situations that such endeavours are causing, need to be documented and systematically brought to a solution point. The effort has to begin somewhere.
To sum it up therefore, it is enough to say that one must hear oneself, one must hear each other, one must hear the crowd. Above all, the system must hear what the individual is experiencing in navigating through it. The ability to hear someone may provide the solution to many stated and unstated exasperating experiences and heartaches.