I recently had jury duty, and my initial reaction was not enthusiastic. Juggling the demands of co-managing my fast-growing start-up, family obligations, and community commitments, I was unsure how I would manage everything especially considering that I might be on jury duty for up to two weeks.
I quickly realized that being frustrated was unproductive and that I had to embrace what was to come. After two uneventful days, I was selected on my third day to serve on a criminal lawsuit involving domestic violence. The case was upsetting, but I was excited to be a part of the action, learn more about the steps in a court proceeding, and hopefully aid in making the correct decision based on the facts.
As the judge spoke to us about the upcoming proceedings, she referred us to the notepad and pen on each of the juror’s seat. She explained that taking notes was to help aid us in keeping track of the facts come time for deliberation, but not as a replacement to actively listening to the witnesses, lawyers, herself, and any professionals throughout the course of the trial. She directed us to pay attention not only to the words but the emotions of each witness, which would allow us to determine the credibility of the testimonies better.
At the break after the lawyers’ opening statements, I reflected on the judge’s message and how relevant her guidance was not only in the court of law but in business. Often, we can bury our heads in the data or the confines of our opinions instead of actively and objectively listening to our customers. If a customer tells you that they like your product or service, do you know why? Do they like what you offer because that is what they want you to hear to avoid confrontation? Or do they like your product because it helps them solve a problem that no other product can do?
Encourage yourself and your teams to put down the notepad, spreadsheets, and internal reports, and actively listen. You may be surprised that the “why” and emotion behind the feedback may lead you and your company to a different verdict.
Greg Pesky, a founding partner of NEATGOODS, LLC, is a corporate type turned entrepreneur. Although he does not commute via a shared electronic scooter to his co-office space, he does love the self-imposed dress code and choosing the 60-80 hours per week when he wants to work.