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Buck Woody

Carpe Datum!

No Certainties, Including That One

The older I get, the more I realize that there are few certainties in life. No, this isn’t one of those philosophical posts where I relate some newfound wisdom as if I’m the first one to discover it – I’m going somewhere practical with this.

I deal not only with several systems of my own, but as you may know I work in an advisory role with several large (and small) clients in a few states in the Pacific Northwest. I find that the work I do in my systems helps me talk with the clients, and vice-versa. And I’ve been working with technology and data systems for a really long time.

All of those things hold a hidden danger – yes, I have been able to learn a lot of things over the years. But the danger is in my thinking that I know everything – because I most certainly do not. I try to keep that in mind at all times.

The worst place this can insert itself is when I begin to hear a problem, and automatically formulate an answer. “Ah yes,” I think, “this is problem number 234. Here’s the answer.” I patiently nod my head while the other person talks, but I’m not really listening – I’m waiting for my turn to talk!

So I work hard not to do this. I try and take notes while the other person talks, listen closely, and ask a lot of questions. This actually surprises some folks – they are so used to an “expert” spouting off the answer before they even ask the complete question that they sometimes think I don’t know the answer, or don’t understand. But in the end, I’m able to save myself embarrassment and the client frustration by listening carefully.

So that’s the practical tip for today - “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. It even works with computer professionals!

Published Wednesday, March 3, 2010 6:59 AM by BuckWoody
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Holger Schmeling said:

100% agree! Although it's good to know what you know, almost as important is that you know, what you don't know, and that you don't know everything of course. This puts you in the position to work on your gaps, and that's essential.

I've recently wrote a blog post about this from a different perspective which you may read here:

March 5, 2010 6:07 AM

Grant Fritchey said:

If you're at all involved with Scouting, the Wood Badge course is this advanced leadership training that they offer. You've just summarized the "Listening To Learn" segment fairly well.

March 5, 2010 9:24 AM
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