Listen Carefully

“Sometimes a whisper in a noisy room is the most effective strategy.”
-Darren Rowse

One of my managers brought a new saying to the office:

“If someone in the office whispers to you, take it as a scream.”

It’s a take on Ramit Sethi’s advice:

“If someone you respect whispers to you, take it as a scream.”

And since we all respect each other in the office, both sayings apply. It’s a fantastic direction for my entire team. I share this saying because I want to touch on both whispering and screaming and their implications as a leader. 

As someone who grew up in the sports and military world, a loud voice was part of the role. Cheering and encouraging on the field or the side of the pool and demanding urgency or directing action on the battlefield. 

Nowadays, whether with my kids or our teams, I’m not a screamer (okay, now and then at home, I am). As much as I feel coaching is in my blood and one of the essential parts of my job, the office isn’t a place to scream, yell, demand and direct. I don’t want to bear down on my team like Bobby Knight in practice (or refs in a game) and I’m not leading the Third Army like Patton into Bastogne.

That’s not good for me. It’s not good for them. In my opinion, anger and screaming have no place in the office.

Yes, as a leader, things happen that can spark our emotions. Some of our feelings and passion are what make us good leaders. And let’s be honest, as leaders, we often deal with the most challenging and frustrating situations.

That is just to be expected.

Some days our teams are undefeated (Go Birds!), and some days our teams are hitting five home runs…

And some days, we get thrown a no-hitter (C’mon Phils!). 

We must take our energy, passion and emotion and channel it into the proper outlet. When I feel those emotions bubbling up, I take a slow, deep breath and turn those emotions into words. Why am I feeling this way? 

Often, I can own at least half of why I am frustrated. So instead of yelling, screaming, overreacting or blaming, we can figure out how to move forward from the problem.

And if an individual needs to take more ownership, it’s time to whisper.

I take people aside, and I ask a question. I talk about “teachable moments” or “learning opportunities.” Not in front of a group in a meeting, but on a walk or in their office. 

Whispering advice. Hoping that my team acts on it before that scream starts bubbling up in my belly.

Take whispers as a scream. It’s excellent advice.

Look around and listen, and you’ll hear whispers everywhere. Your clients are whispering. Your boss is whispering. Your spouse is whispering, and you may even hear your kids whispering.

Those aren’t whispers; those are screams! Listen for them. Act on them.

Let’s Go, Phillies!
Go Army! Beat Air Force!

BJ Kraemer, President