Zen and the Art of Business Conversation

by Lorne Mitchell on 06/08/2015

It is August and the holidays are here!  For many, July and August are the months for rest and recuperation and spending time with family on holiday.  For those that live in the northern parts of the Northern hemisphere, it is a time for getting some sun on our skins before the longer winter months kick in again.
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For many, it is also a time of reflection.  For although the calendar year starts in January, September is the start of the academic year and August is the gap before the start of the new year.  I have found that many businesses are tuned to the academic calendar – either directly (like a University or School) or indirectly (because many of their employees have children who set a cycle in the family geared around their academic needs).
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So it got me thinking.  Most of my great ideas have come from a time when I am not thinking about day-to-day stuff.  Those magic, “Eureka!” moments when a problem you have been working on suddenly becomes solvable.
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By not being hampered by the grind of meetings, actions and to-do lists, we can solve old problems and creating new ideas.  Finding a gap in the year’s day-to-day grind to think big, think outside the box or just not think at all and let nature take its course often relaxes you in ways you can’t achieve at other times of the year.
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There is an old saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as long as we speak.  And so it is with the summer break.  There is a gap in proceedings where we can listen.  Not just listen to those who we work with.  But listen to ourselves.  Our inner mind.  Our inner bodies.  Our inner spirit.  We can refresh each other with the rest and easy living that we often over-ride in the rest of the year.
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So, back the Art of Business Conversation.  For my own part, I have been working on a new way to look at businesses through the conversations we have.  The Art of Business Conversation, if you like.  As simple as ABC.  Except it isn’t, is it?  It is quite complicated.
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There are several different types of business conversation (which I aim to explore more in future posts).  The most intense are often wrapped up in emotional outbursts or things unsaid.
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The key is to find space within the conversation to reflect.  On an annual cycle, this time of the year gives us time to reflect on the longer-term relationships we all have with the businesses and people we work with.  Either as employees; business owners; customers; suppliers; that funny, over-used word “partners”; or simply the friends and relations that weave in and out of those conversations.
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And that is where the idea of Zen comes in.  Zen is the space between.  Zen is the effortless flow.  Zen is the silent, observant onlooker onto our busy world of nothingness.  Zen is the state to get into before returning to the ABC of business, academia and all those things where we sequence stuff and continue our practice of the art of business conversation.
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So, enjoy the break.  Listen to the silence.  Observe the subtle messages coming from the conversation with yourself.  Say nothing and say everything.  Come back refreshed and energised to take on the new challenges that you discover in the hidden moments of this August recess.
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