Deep Listening and Adopting a Zulu Principle

Andrew Weaver
April 18, 2023

“I have a habit of completing other people’s sentences for them ….
Is that a problem?”

Was a question I heard pitched during one leadership coaching session

Rather inevitably the chap asking the question
then decided to interrupt the response

but it stuck in my mind as a question that was easy to laugh at,
but introspectively difficult to answer.

That’s because in the disappointingly short list of my leadership qualities at the time … Deep listening wasn’t near the top

Anxiety (aka fear of forgetting the point I wanted to raise)

Played a part in making me a poor listener (and interrupter)

I wouldn’t say that I’ve since cracked the skill completely
But I’ve seen it’s importance in effective leadership

Joseph Trodden delivers a fantastic lecture for CTO Academy looking at “Deep Listening”

I particularly like his observation around a Zulu principle called Sawubona …

“There’s a principle I like that comes from the Zulu people,
where instead of saying ‘hello’ at the start of a conversation,
they say ‘sawubona’.

This roughly translates to ‘I see you’ …

It’s about taking a specific moment before they engage in dialogue to recognise that the other person has their own thoughts and perceptions, their own values and experience, and that
whatever they say is important to them.

It’s recognising the validity of them as a person, that you’ve come together to share perspectives, and the conversation can only be truly meaningful if we approach it with that level of respect for each other”

How gorgeous is that?

Pack that principle into your leadership toolkit
and you won’t go far wrong.

#leadership #deeplistening #sawubona #cto #ctoacademy

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