Last night at the Councils cocktail party in Chelsea – where, after a day of council meetings, we assembled several hundred members, alums, and friends at a beautiful rooftop garden – I asked everyone to stop networking and to listen to each other instead.
I gave a short speech focused on that simple request. I said no matter who you are talking to, listen to them. Ask them questions. Listen to their answers. Give them the experience of being listened to, of being heard.
Most companies don’t listen well to their customers – and most leaders don’t listen well to each other.
People have amazing lives – lives filled with happiness, with tragedy, with hope, with despair. But, what they don’t have is the experience that anyone listens.
Listening is a gift given to me by my mom (who was a great listener to her friends), by my wife, Lisa (who is a world-class listener and has demanded that I be a better listener over the years), and by many friends.
Next time you go to a cocktail party or event of any kind, forget about yourself (this will also relieve you of the anxiety these events can create). Focus instead on listening to others. You will give them a gift – and you will discover that the real connection you make is even a greater gift to you.
P.S. Thanks again to Accenture. They sponsored – and made possible – the cocktail party. They were a great partner for this event.