I join a meeting and start talking passionately about my ideas, how they work, who could be involved, all of the different ways I’ve thought about them and how amazing they are. Very quickly we have 2 minutes left – wow that hour went quickly! That was fun. Does anyone have anything to add? No. That’s annoying. I come away pleased with my ideas, annoyed no one offered any of theirs. Everyone else is fed up, disengaged, frustrated that they didn’t get to be part of a conversation. Not fun

Thankfully not all my meetings are like that! (Hopefully not any!)

Humans became a dominant species for many reasons. Primarily our ability to communicate – two way communication. Our ability to listen, observe, learn, plan what to do next, change our thinking, enjoy each other’s company and their perspectives. It meant we found better and more plentiful food, created communities and discovered new lands. Working together.

A client recently said to me “Alex, one of your biggest strengths is your ability to listen, to give sound and objective advice – to have a conversation”. I was really touched and pleased by that.

When I’m creating a marketing strategy, I start by listening to what our audience, our customers, are saying. What can we learn, what’s good, what’s bad, what are they interested in? What challenges do they face? Do they care about our brand, our services or solutions, do they even know who we are? What makes them tick both professionally and personally and how can we enrich their business, or their life. Then listening to those who spend most of the time with them – sales teams and account managers or 3rd parties. They are a critical piece of the puzzle. There are a lot of data points out there, a lot of information to take in – and it takes skill and time to analyse it, find insight and distill it into something useful and effective for a marketing programme. Patience and perseverance are key.

We have two ears for a reason. If we’re going to creatively solve a challenge, it takes communication, it takes multiple perspectives and ideas. We’ll only get to the best answers through diversity of thought. And that’s when things are much more fun!

Don’t speak just to be heard. Listen first, it’s a powerful tool and one of our greatest human qualities.