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Tips From Times Of Isolation #1

Anyone who’s worked with me probably knows by now that I am not a big fan of listening skills workshops. I’ve fought for the idea that the speaker has the responsibility to say something worth listening to and say it in a compelling way. And a writer has the responsibility to write something worth reading and write it in a compelling way. If he or she does that, believe me…listeners will listen and readers will read.

My current Isolation book is “The Fringes of Power. 10 Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955.” It’s written by John Colville who was Private Secretary to Winston Churchill during the war years. He’s mentioned prominently in the book I wrote you about a couple weeks ago, “The Splendid and The Vile.” He credits Churchill with this quality:

He possessed, to an unusual degree, the ability to pick out quickly the main points in a complicated story. He would read a long Cabinet Paper and pick out one or two aspects of the case, frequently those that did not seem the most important. He would pursue them with vigor.

A genius is defined as someone who listened to what everyone in the room listened to but heard what no one else heard. OMG, if I could teach a listener how to pick out the salient points in an otherwise difficult-to-follow message…that is a listening skills workshop I would gladly take and start to teach. The title would be “Listening Like A Genius.” I would’ve loved taking that class from Churchill.

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