The Unspoken Mentor by Richard Branson

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On March 12, 2015, Posted by , In Richard Branson, With No Comments

From the chapter ‘The Dying Art of Listening: Listen – It Makes You Sound Smarter’ in ‘The Virgin Way’ by Richard Branson

A really skilled listener not only takes in what has been said but what will also hear what has not been said. One of the easier results of this can allow questions such as, ‘I was intrigued to note that you failed to make any mention of XYZ. Does this mean you don’t consider it relevant to your proposal?’ A more interesting spin on the unspoken word, however can be recognizing when someone is deliberately avoiding an issue that they should really be addressing. In a one-on-one chat with a mid-level manager, for example, if they painstakingly steer the subject away from any mention whatsoever of their divisional vice-president’ role in a failed initiative when they would seem to be a logical part of the dialogue, it may be enough to confirm concerns about there being a cover up going on.

Similarly, paying close attention to not just what someone says but the way in which they say it can help you to read between the lines – a place where the real story is often dramatically different to what the casual listener might understand is being said ‘on the lines’. While what a speaker says can have several layers of meaning, how it is said can also be a giveaway to various subtexts. I have always found it hugely interesting to closely observe a speaker’s body language, facial expressions, the enunciation of certain words and all sorts of subtle innuendo, which can put a very different spin on what words alone might convey.

Inspired? Buy The Virgin Way and other books by Richard Branson in the College CFO bookstore.

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