Question: I was recently told that I don’t listen very well. I think I do but I feel like I’m being defensive if I say so. How should I respond?
Answer: Take a glance over your shoulder. What do I mean? When we’re driving a car and we’re going to change lanes what do we do? We check in the mirror. But if that’s all we do we could still have an accident. Why? Because the mirrors don’t necessarily allow us to see in our blind spot. Instead, we look over our shoulder to visually make certain we aren’t going to collide with another car.
This is a great life metaphor. When we look in the mirror we don’t always see what others see. To “glance back” is to accept feedback from others, and sometimes it may be something we don’t want to hear about ourselves. Then we have to make a choice. We can be defensive and reject what we are being told. Or we can swallow our pride (often false pride) and take a long and introspective look. Perhaps there’s some truth to the ugly rumor that we have a characteristic or trait that needs to be modified.
If we want to succeed as entrepreneurs we must be willing to become vulnerable and pay attention to how others feel about us. Earlier in my career I was a bit tone deaf when it came to being sensitive to other’s feelings. Apparently I had a tendency to run roughshod over people. I was told this several times and could not see my blind spot. In reality I was in denial about what I was being told. Ultimately I began to change my behavior after it adversely impacted my relationships and caused hard feelings. To stay on the straight and narrow I give my colleagues permission to “hit me on the head with a two-by-four” if ever again I fall into the same behavior.
It’s a rare individual who has no blind spots. We should accept the fact that we have them. But what we do to learn about them is a test of our character. When we pay attention to how others are responding to us we’ll be able to sense whether or not the reaction is positive or negative.
Actively glancing over our shoulder and checking with others to learn of our foibles will help us strengthen our relationships. In so doing we avoid allowing our blind spots to become destructive.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.