Everyone should learn the business skill of listening!

At the end of my last blog, I referred to the terms woke and the cancel culture. I even changed the reference of a ‘calling a spade a spade’ to ‘calling a shovel a shovel’. So where do I stand in this present-day climate of either being woke or risk being cancelled?

Let me start by making it very clear that I oppose any form of racism or oppression of any ethnic group by another ethnic group. I also believe that climate change is real and that we need to take positive action now. The same goes for the behaving responsibly during this or any other pandemic.

Where I start to diverge from many is in the way that people go about promoting their own viewpoint whilst refusing to listen to any other viewpoint. I believe there are a multitude of ways in which we can tackle the serious issues of racism against a multiplicity of ethnic groups as well as issues such as climate change and tackling the pandemic.

However, we appear to have created a woke tower of Babel, where everyone is shouting loudly, but no one is listening. The desire to protest has overcome the desire to fix. Even worse, the easy group public demonstration is preferred to the individual significant action.

Sadly, the very protests designed to highlight the issues often serve to reduce support for these very important issues. Whether it be Rhodes Scholars in Oxford that were happy to take his money for their studies but then want to remove his statue, celebrities preaching about climate change having arrived by private jet, or people refusing to target the biggest climate change offenders, all turn people against what they are trying to achieve.

It also has the capacity to attract those that clearly enjoy shooting themselves in the foot. I was fascinated that the anti-lockdown protest in London went ahead hours after lockdown was lifted.

But there must be even more gullible celebrities that are professing their support for a better world by buying ‘organic cocaine’ at an exorbitant price to show their woke credentials! Even before we consider the serious drug problem that they should be trying to stop, I am pretty sure that the Soil Association doesn’t have a Peru office!

However, mutual respect for opinions has been replaced with a society where the noisiest few believe that you are either with them or you are wrong. Even politicians have got fed up with working for the common good during the pandemic in favour of returning to points scoring and struggling for power.

Businesses long ago learnt that listening was one of their greatest attributes. The ability to listen to customers and to find solutions that the customer needed that also fitted with your objectives was key to staying in business. A quick search on the internet will give numerous examples of businesses like Pan Am and Borders Bookstores that failed to listen.

But the world generally has developed into a society where debate is relegated to the level of a playground scrap or the well-known boy’s game of who can p**s highest up the wall!

The businesses that survive and grow are the ones that listen to those that have solutions, be they customers or employees. Unfortunately, the same cannot be true when it comes to society tackling the big issues like racism, climate change or pandemics.

Like searching for diamonds, there are many small jewels out there that are creating solutions to the real issues we face. However, until we learn to listen instead of shouting, the real solutions will remain buried under the weight of the conversation of the deaf.

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