- Remove the oratory (the effect of the speaker’s delivery style and voice). You can either do this mentally or you can find a transcript of the speech. Do the words still make sense when just written, not spoken?
- If the key messages were not clear, was that intentional? Could simpler, more commonly used words have made the message unmistakable? If so, then why wasn’t it said that way? Perhaps it was worded so each member of the audience could interpret the speech individually by “hearing what they wanted to hear?”
The danger is being lulled into complacency. Quite a large number of reasonably intelligent people adopt “selective hearing” when a speaker or writer uses ambiguous words: They often see/hear what they want to see/hear, either pro or con. And less-educated people, who mistakenly question their own ability to understand “complex” subjects and assume the unfamiliar words surely must make sense to somebody, fall into the same trap. This is partly because everyone is busy managing their daily affairs, working and . . . . just . . . living. It is soooo easy to defer to the “ruling class” in the State capitol and/or Washington DC – - – the professional economists, strategists, politicians and lobbyists. But many things that happen in the State and US capitols impact the business environment and, therefore, the company where you work.
The Danger for Our Country:
This “letting the experts handle complex things” is an age-old problem in every country and is especially risky in any democracy or republic, regardless of your political persuasion. Howard Troxler said this temptation to be lazy is very dangerous in last week’s editorial “I’m Too Busy is not an option” in a Virginian Pilot editorial on June 13th (an outstanding newspaper, BTW). He says, in part,
“We should pay more attention to what Washington is doing. We should pay more attention to what the state legislature is doing. We should pay more attention to what City Hall and the School Board are doing. If we don’t, then the same bunch in Washington will keep right on driving the country off the cliff. . . . Paying attention is not something optional that you can get around-to one day. Tell everybody you know.”
The Danger for Your Company
There are clear parallels in the business world: It is easy to get tunnel-vision, to adopt a narrow focus on only your little part of the organization. Don’t do this. Know the big picture. Listen closely to management’s speeches but be sure you know what matters most in your organization (cash flow, orders backlog, etc.). In any company be sure you understand at least four things:
- How the financial community rates your firm (if publicly traded) and what they are saying about your management (good, bad, strong vision, confused, etc.)
- The company’s long term strategic plan and how your team (and job) fits into that plan
- How your company generates cash
- What your team’s financial objectives are for the month, quarter and year (in other words, what your boss signed you up to accomplish)
If you are intimidated by financial terms and statements, here is a great $20 booklet “Guide to Finance Basics for Managers” from Harvard Business Review at. Remember – - – what you don’t know can hurt you!
Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation
—Mack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government