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Week 21 in text, listen to what is NOT being said

Faizan Patankar on 26 May 2019

An important aspect of communication is listening to what is not being said.

Communication is a beast. Often you will hear someone say they are good in "communication". Because they can talk.

Take it from me, It does not make them a good communicator.

Good communication is about listening as much as talking. And excellent communication is about listening to what is not being said, as much as what is.

If you are working on your startup, you can be forgiven for thinking, communication doesn't matter to you. However, it matters to you as much as it matters to a 10,001+ employee organisation.

Remember 3 things about communication:

  1. Communication is a two-way street, speak and listen
  2. The medium is as important as the message you are communicating
  3. Listen to what is not being said

I like building partnerships and building on ideas. I don't like sales. They are both very similar but have different KPIs and culture. So what I am going to say is relevant for building strategic partnerships or building new ventures by ideating.

Communication is a two-way street

And if you are a startup it's so important for you to speak but also listen. Listening is through various activities, Design Thinking, Empathising, Customer Interviews, etc. Don't misjudge listening as just an act of listening to the other person/customer. No, it is an act of investing your time to hear someone out.

And as a founder, build a community around your idea. Seek out the ecosystem for your market and actively participate in it.

You have two ears and one mouth, use it in that ratio.

The medium is as important as the message

I first heard this from Thomas. And he really distilled all my thoughts succinctly in one sentence. If you have an important message to communicate, choosing the right medium is even more important.

Too often, organisations send a newsletter in the name of communication. That's awful communication. Newsletters are great if you are a dynamically changing business and quite nascent, after that, you need a stickier method of communication.

Think blogs, videos, write on medium, write in a print newspaper. Anything, that gives your message, the distribution channel it needs.

Listen to what is NOT being said

This is so important for everyone. Leaders know this very well. And as a startup founder you really should become good at it, for multiple reasons;

  • things not being said are being taken for granted
  • or things not being said are important and sensitive

You should always ask whether what was not said is the right assumption, or whether it needs to be said? In these areas of the unsaid, lie opportunities. Opportunities to grow the value you can offer as a business or a person.

All three of the points above are what I live by when it comes to communication. If there isn't a good medium to communicate through, I talk to folks. And when I talk, I listen to much more than I talk. And when I listen, I listen as much to what is not being said, as what is.

Remember this when communicating.

#Story Of The Week

Talking to Lee, who inadvertently gave the startup wisdom we all want to hear

I was talking to a work colleague, and we were discussing stuff around startups. And he said, "there aren't barriers to entry, but there exist barriers to success" in the aerospace industry. Let's ignore the fact that he was talking about the aerospace industry.

But it made realise, that it's true, barriers to entry have reduced or removed. And it had led to a record number of ventures being formed and coming to life. However, the failure rate of new businesses has continued steadily.

So whilst, external innovators and internal innovation teams still rejoice when an idea is built, or launched, the truth is, it really isn't a key milestone. Because there is no barrier to entry. The problem has shifted to making an idea successful. There now exist barriers to success and we need to figure that out.

This concept has been discussed a number of times, in various ways, for example, Lean Startup principles focus on making something and releasing it to the market to test it is useful (let's assume if it's useful, it will be successful). Lean principles do not correlate building something as being useful.

Thanks for sharing Lee, you clearly articulated where the problems lie. There are no barriers to entry, but barriers to success exist.

#Some Reading Material

4 Secrets Of Success In Corporate Innovation by Paul Campbell in The Innovative Enterprise resonated with me.

Here's a quote,

Deconstruction takes place between ideation and incubation, requiring critical evaluation that thoroughly dismantles and challenges internal structure. The exercise exposes what can be recovered, reused or recycled, as well as what must be jettisoned to bring the innovation to fruition. Building new opportunities can require internally destroying how business is typically done to create a truly solid foundation.

If you are interested in corporate innovation, I strongly recommend reading that article.

That's all folks

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