Seeing with Sound: How Listening is crucial in Business

When a business, a leader, a mentor isn't listening, it's difficult to fight corporate blindness. If you're corporate blind, or lacking in focus and vision, try listening. There's a wonderful story on 'echolcation' or seeing with sound as mastered by Daniel Kish, who founded World Access for the Blind – and I saw an immediate allegory and a lesson for us all in business...

The Weekend Review in Gulf News of April 5, 2013 did a great piece on Daniel Kish – who travels the world over working with the visually challenged. He guides them in developing "seeing" strengths through a technique that enables them to navigate using sound and to find the freedom to do  what they please. The story is amazing. Kish was born with a rare form of cancer that robbed him of his vision. But he developed his mastery of echolocation – a technique that's also used by bats and dolphins for navigation! Essentially, it's about using sounds instead of light.

It's an amazing feat for Kish who has helped thousands of blind folk function with freedom of choice – all by listening to sounds. What if there's something to learn from Kish and the art of echolocating in our world of business? How often we get blindsided by instinct, by judgement, by lack of vision (read, blindness) in our world of business, or even everyday living. What if, then, we could use 'sounds' or 'feedback' to improve our vision, to guide our line of sight, and help us focus better?

"Sound waves are similar to light waves that carry energy and are reflected off surfaces. When that energy returns to the observer, the brain captures the patterns of the reflected energy and is able to extract information about the physical surfaces (distance, location etc)" says Kish about his overcoming the challenge through echolocating. Imagine, if we kept our ears open, and listened. Listened to what others have to say, listened to their opinions, their feedback, their criticisms and their praise – wouldn't that really help us see the world around us better?

In some ways brands have been using this in social media – listening to the collective voices of the consumer, the customer, trying to understand the echoes, the chatter, the reflected sounds. If we apply this same science (or is it an art?) to our everyday business, our everyday lives, wouldn't that help us tremendously in understanding how we are being perceived, understood, interpreted and positioned?

If only we are willing to ask for feedback, to have our ears open, our auditory receptors on max, it would be such an immense improvement of our vision, our sight, our way of seeing the world around us. And what a wonderful world that would be.

You can look up more info on echolocation on the World Access for the Blind website...

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