Listen to what they did (not) say (Part 1)Posted: March 31, 2017
March 31, 2017
In business as well as in life, person-to-person communication is vital. When doing competitive intelligence, listening skills are critical. But you need to do more than just listen and assimilate. You must pay attention to and listen to what they may really be saying – at least to themselves. This is true whether you are doing an interview, getting or giving a briefing, or reading a report or email.
What is the difference?
Let me give you a couple of examples:
When a senior executive says that “We know that our competitor is doing …”, unless his firm just finished doing some legitimate CI work, and he read it, what he means is that “I think (or hope or fear) that our competitor is doing …”
When an interviewee says “I have been in this business for 20 (or some other large number) years, and I know that…”, take it with a very big grain of salt. The longer she has been in that business, the larger her blinders will be.
When an expert tells you that “The very long-term trend in this is …”, what he often means is (a) “The long-term trend I am predicting is one best positioned to make companies hire me”, (b) “That long-term trend is one that you probably cannot effectively challenge right now”, or (c) “The possibility of that trend actually occurring makes me very pleased (or frightened).” In some cases, it can be all 3.
When a supervisor says “I do not see the need for doing that (CI) research at this point”, what she often means is “My mind is already made up and I do not want any new facts getting in the way.”
When someone asks for “some intelligence on…”, but declines to describe how he will use it, it sometimes means “I have no idea what you are doing, or what you can provide, so give me something and I will figure out if and how I can use it after I see it.”
Depressing? No. Confusing? Yes.