When is a good time to stop listening?

“Never! It’s always good to listen”, is probably the reflex answer to this.  There are always people around who have experienced things for themselves, and who are happy to share the benefit of their experience.  In the work environment, it makes sense to listen to those who can tell you how to do something, or how not to.  At home, it makes sense for children to listen to parents or elders – after all, they’re almost certainly explaining something for the benefit of the child rather than themselves.

Parents will have noticed this with children.  A parent can tell a child something “a million times”, and the child will still stick his/ her hand in the fire, or touch the wet paint, or fall in the water.  At the time, it feels as though the child is being deliberately disobedient but I ought to be more charitable… it may have simply “decided” that this is a good time to learn by doing rather than by being told.

I’ve no idea how a child would determine when is a good time to be selectively disobedient and to learn by doing – it might just be random.  But either way, the child should be applauded for this approach since the resultant learning will invariably be more valuable.  However in the worst case examples, the natural reaction of a parent might be to scold a child, thereby reducing the likelihood of the child learning the next time, and perpetuating the problem.  Exactly the same logic applies to adults.

If we want to encourage real learning, we need to encourage failure – “we should be making more mistakes”.  But that inevitably means we should stop listening – sometimes.

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Thursday 26th April 2012 – a special day

If you live in the US, today is a special day for sons and daughters…

What a brilliant initiative!  Check the link: www.daughtersandsonstowork.org/

Of course, it’s only one day so all those lucky sons and daughters won’t get the widest of experiences but it’s a brilliant idea nevertheless.

There will doubtless be plenty of people who will resent the idea of “kids” coming into their workplace and distracting them.  But there will also be plenty of people who find themselves to be naturally inspiring and who will encourage young talent.  Even if that sometimes results in the sons and daughters changing their understanding of what work is all about, then that’s a good thing.  We all like to make informed choices and we want our children to have that opportunity too.  This looks like a great initiative!