Roger Cowdrey - International Business Consultant. Writer & Motivational Speaker
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Try taking your fingers out of your ears

It was only a few months back that I was writing a blog on the lessons for business from the Brexit vote. The most important of these lessons was the need to listen to the people that you are dealing with.
 
Yesterday I awoke to find that America had clearly not learnt that lesson. And yet the signs had been there for all to see. When Trump said he would stand for the presidency everyone enjoyed the joke and didn’t even give him a chance of getting the nomination.
 
When he got the nomination with comparative ease, despite serious opposition from the establishment, no one gave him a chance in the battle with Clinton. It was a done deal! The establishment knows best! And yet, the establishment got it so wrong, and now the so-called joke candidate is potentially the most powerful person in the world.
 
Even more concerning is how many other governments will fail to heed the warning and will witness similar reversals in their own elections? Will Le Penn win France and what will happen in Germany and Italy?
 
The problem is that when people get into positions of power they are inclined to regard power as a synonym for intelligence. As a consequence they behave as if they know what the rest of us should know and regard us as ignorant.
 
In practice, those people who think they know what is best for others stop listening to the others. Nothing annoys people more than the thought that their opinions are valueless and hence ignored.
 
But not listening is not simply a disease of the elite of London, Washington or Paris. This attitude permeates many aspects of our society. Businesses set themselves up for failure because they don't listen to the needs of their customers and then act surprised when their customers go to someone that does listen.
 
Educators and parents try and tell young people what is best for them and their future, despite the adults being unable to predict what that future will look like in this ever-changing world. Is it any wonder that young people rebel by dropping out or by joining unsavoury groups that appear to listen to them?
 
Why is it such a sin for a young person to want to be an entrepreneur rather than stay on at school, go to university and get a job that will saddle them with student debt and will only give them an initial increase in salary of 10% over their non-university counterparts. Moreover, it will not take into account the money earned by their counterparts in the intervening three years.
 
Across the world we see gaps getting wider. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer. The richest 62 people on the planet have the same combined wealth as the poorest three and a half billion of the planet.
We see career politicians sitting in luxury homes and ruling over people that they have never met or want to meet. We see academics preparing young people for a working life that they have no experience of.
 
We see businesses making decisions that have no basis in customer requirements but are decided by the whims of the bosses.
 
As the gaps get wider, no matter how hard people shout they are often not heard. Therefore, when someone comes along and seems prepared to listen they become attractive.
 
The leave campaign appeared to hear the shouts about immigration and sovereign control in Britain while the liberal elite talked about the economy. Donald Trump appeared to hear the shouts about illegal immigration, homeland security and job creation. Radical preachers and gang leaders appear to hear the shouts for a future from young people.
 
People get worried whether any of these things are true or just a pipe dream. That is irrelevant. If you don't listen to the shouts then you cannot counteract whether the prophets are real or false.
 
Many people appear to be ringing their hands at the possibilities of a continuing rebellion across countries and continents like we have seen in the UK and the USA. Ringing hands solves nothing, perhaps taking fingers out of ears may produce better results, whether you are a politician, an academic or a business owner.
 
 

 

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