As I began to write this, I was concerned to note that I was about to start writing with the same opening line.

What I wrote was “I nearly let someone down yesterday”. I thought this because I had a conversation with someone who had some issues about their circumstances and my involvement in them. Truth is, it was not a mess of my making and to say I let someone down would be inaccurate. A combination of factors led to the conversation and the subsequent displeasure.

What would be fair to say perhaps would be, “I took one for the team yesterday”. I listened and understood the concerns that were being shared with me, (not directed at me) and took the responsibility for them on behalf of the organisation.

 Most of us work with other people. Team-mates, colleagues, co-workers, call them as you will. What our clients see is the organisation we work for, and ourselves as a representative of that organisation.

The clients in question, are the ever brilliant Hedgerow Hound, vegan street food specialists and all-around great people to be involved with. They operate from our kitchen space in the Devonport Guildhall and are a collaboration that represents our commitment to the regeneration of this part of the city.

Part of building relationships is having open conversations, and this involves listening. I could have chosen to put up barriers, defend myself and the business, and make myself feel loyal by not laying the blame at the feet of another. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out that would be foolish and unproductive. Listening doesn’t have to mean agreeing, but it does allow space for thoughts to be aired and oneself a chance to consider an appropriate response.

So often, businesses are led by alpha-male shouters who think the only way to get things done is to continue to shout until something resembling their way occurs. Listening is important. Listening to your clients, both internal and external to make sure you are fully appraised of the situation and are able to make decisions with full awareness.

Imagine the captain of a ship shouting and barking orders to the crew to go faster, so obsessed with doing so that they ignore the chief engineer who is advising that this excess will lead to problems with the engines onboard. Maybe it happens, but it seems unlikely.

Listening is a skill. It needs to be practiced and it certainly is not the same as waiting for your turn to speak. I can say with some confidence that I listened to Lily, Jess & Tom yesterday and took action on what we agreed needed to be done. One such action was to ensure the correct licencing documents are available for the Plymouth Eco Market taking place on November 12th at their Guildhall home. Relax, it is all in hand.

Every experience gives us an opportunity to learn and if we listen, we are likely to get a lot more out of it. There is more to come about Hedgerow, but for now, make time to see them a week on Saturday and tie in a visit around the corner to Market Hall for Fulldome UK 2022, for the culmination of another great event in Devonport.