Today’s post was written by Amy Fenollosa, Director of Learning at The Latimer Group.
This week our team sat around a conference table with a consultant and after half an hour, he looked at us and said, “Maybe we should pause this discussion.”
It was an unusual situation; typically we’re brought in as consultants and coaches. We listen intently, ask pointed questions, and provide candid feedback that is designed to challenge people and help them perceive things differently. We help others learn by listening and facilitating the conversation.
This time, the tables were turned. As we worked through detailed requirements for an exciting new web-based project, our trusted advisor Bill Mulligan of Drink Caffeine challenged our thinking and helped us envision the project and the process in an entirely new way.
At The Latimer Group, we advocate that everyone should really listen and strive to understand their audience’s point of view in order to develop a meaningful message. We begin nearly all of our workshops with a module on Active Listening. Bill was a great listener, which was critical; he also asked the right questions, essential of a technology consultant helping a client to embark on a new initiative.
Bill also provided us with something else: a new perspective, a fresh lens through which to see the world. So often we’re surrounded by people who are familiar, playing similar roles, managing the same kinds of projects, that it’s easy to work in a vacuum. We’re all guilty of putting blinders on just to get the work done as efficiently as possible. We focus on resolutions instead of enlightening possibilities.
When the roles were reversed and we were the clients, we learned some valuable lessons:
- Change your role: You’ll all learn from the experience. For example, if you’re always the leader, ask a team member to lead a meeting for a change.
- Include someone new: It doesn’t have to be a consultant, but share your ideas with someone who thinks differently. You’ll be amazed.
- Hit the pause button: Listen intently, ask the right questions, and then stop. Take a step back and try to see things from a different perspective.
When you try these three things together, you come up with something creative and fresh. Sometimes it’s hard to slow down, but by doing so—you’ll be able to launch ahead with new insight, a different perspective and an innovative outcome. Just imagine the possibilities!