Listen Like Casanova

Listening is an underrated yet critical skill. Sadly, I haven’t seen “Listening” covered in too many Management programmes and I’m not sure it gets the attention it requires on Coaching courses either. 
 
You may argue that Mindfulness and The Fish Philosophy have “being in the moment” covered and that concept goes far beyond merely listening anyway but I’d suggest that not everyone is a natural listener so it’s a skill that needs to be taught and practiced continually. 
 
Rarely will listening feature as a key skill when I ask aspiring managers to list the attributes of a great manager, yet the best managers always take the time to really listen to their staff and customers. Conversely when I ask what makes for a bad manager, the attitudes and behaviours associated with not listening (or being present) always come high up the list. 
So, if this is true for most people, then why aren’t we spending more time learning how to really listen? 
When I first started delivering training to managers and staff involved with coaching over 11 years ago, I wanted to find an innovative way of highlighting listening as an important skill; luckily, I’d just watched Casanova, the BBC miniseries written by Russell T Davies and starring Peter O’Toole and David Tennant playing Casanova as an old and young man respectively. Davies would go on to be the first showrunner for the resurrected Doctor Who and Casanova would prove to be the ideal audition piece for Tennant.

I was fascinated by the historical Casanova who, although famous as the foremost seduction expert of his time, was also involved in setting up the first state lottery, wrote extensively about the places he visited and the food he ate. He squandered several fortunes but in the process always managed to turn the situation to his advantage, he eventually ended up as a Librarian in Bohemian castle where he wrote his life story. We only know so much about 18th century Europe because of Casanova’s life story. But what really interested me was Casanova’s ability to listen, really listen to people and the opportunities they presented. 
 
Russell T. Davies wrote this about Casanova… “When I sat down to read Casanova’s autobiography, I discovered that our modern-day impression of a lascivious, misogynist man is hopelessly wrong. He’s been filtered down through the centuries as a monster. I wanted to rescue him, to show what he was really like. This man genuinely loved women, and respected them with an astonishingly modern mentality. And never mind the serial philanderer — I also discovered that, outside his love life, Casanova was a wonderful, barmy, inventive man. And what a fraud! Like an 18th century Jeffrey Archer, but funny. He wasn’t born an aristocrat, he lied his way into jobs and positions of power with charm and cheek and made himself a success each time. He’s just irresistible.” I concentrated on 3 key scenes from the miniseries the first 2 focus on Casanova’s ability to respond to the needs of the moment and his dedication to the pursuit of happiness and success. The last scene though explains how a young Casanova learned to listen. After an unsuccessful attempt to woo the youngest daughter of a notable Count, he ends up spending the time with her twin sisters instead. She explains that listening is the real route to understanding people, that listening is a seductive superpower. The older Casanova then goes on to prove the point by telling a young maid her life story even though she had no idea she’d given so much of it away. Back in training I’d demonstrate the same skills by telling each delegate all manner of things they’d revealed about themselves and then challenge them to prove that they too could be great listeners by remembering all manner of seemingly trivial yet important parts about the course. When I next met them outside of the training room I’d get them to tell me about 3 occasions where their new-found ability to really listen had been useful; the results were astounding, they’d been able to challenge with conviction and authority, they’d been able to show compassion when it was most required, they’d delivered outcomes that otherwise would have remained hidden, they’d been able to connect with customers by really understanding their requirements. 
 
If you would like to learn about the seductive power of listening then why not book a course with One Degree Difference: click here to contact us