Taste the soup

http://randsinrepose.com/archives/act-last-read-the-room-and-taste-the-soup/

In your career, you’ve had a lot of soup. You’ve had tomato, chicken noodle, potato leek, and countless others. More importantly, you’ve had different variations of each soup. Big huge noodle chicken noodle. Some amazing type of cream on that tomato soup. This soup journey has taught you a lot about soup. Now, when presented with a new bowl of soup, the moment that counts is the first taste. You taste a bit and wonder, “What is going on with this soup?”

~ Rands

I don’t intentionally read the room when I’m interacting with a group. (That may very well be a great thing for managers to do. I am not a manager.)

In the last few years however, I have learned to shut up more, and listen more. I feel this has been a huge part of my success at . . . maybe “success” isn’t the right word.

Somewhere in my brain I have the ideas from an article that described interactions between people as boundary/border negotiations between countries; some have walls, some have armed forces, some are open, some are dividing waste-lands, and some have a frequent exchange of ideas. The people on either side of the border can be soft marshmallows (they shape easily to their borders), malleable (they can be shaped by sufficient outside force), etc. I digress.

By learning to listen, I feel people now put up less razor-wire-topped walls to protect their border with me. Less walls means more interaction, and that interaction has been a driver of my progress of self-improvement.

…and reading that linked article from Rands, now I see that it — reading the room, listening, being a person with an open border — is a widely useful skill.