A new idea is a delicate thing

"You may agree or not, but you have to give their opinions a hearing"

A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn;
it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death
by a frown on the right man's brow.

~ Ovid*


My amiable brother Parvinder and I managed all the technical matters of our large and successful manufacturing business. We were hardworking, innovative and are still pretty good engineers.

My aggressive and cocky nature made me believe I was the smartest guy around. This is what success does, it fooled me into believing my own perceived greatness. Like a small child that unashamedly makes it clear that does not want to share his or her toys, I refused to listen to my other brothers and my father on technical matters.

They too were owners and part of the management team and and extremely smart and sharp individuals. They had a right to express views and ideas and rightly felt disturbed by my arrogance and rebuked me often. Eventually things came to a head and we almost broke up as a family.

My sensible and observant wife, Mohini offered me some advice. "You may agree or not, but you have to give their opinions a hearing"


Bare Arms Crossed (1960) Pablo Picasso

Grudgingly I agreed. Yet things did not work out for the better. Now what was the problem? Was I not listening? But was I?

Our friend Nana Shahney provided the services of a very intelligent man, Mr. Anil Chaturvedi who helped me understood my folly after making important observations after he attended some of our meetings.

I was keeping quiet and ostensibly  listening, but my body language spoke otherwise. I would lean back, yawn often, keep my arms crossed and gaze out of the window when they presented ideas or criticism in my domain. My behaviour still conveyed the message that I was not interested in listening. As Anil pointed out: our words represent only 20% of our communication, another 20% is our tone and the remaining 60% is our unspoken body language.... 60%!

Realising my folly, I changed for the better and our bonds grew stronger and team productivity soared.

Are you listening? What are you conveying?


* Who was Ovid?


Gurvinder Singh

Gurvinder Singh is an engineer by education, Industrialist by professional experience. I have travelled and  conducted business both India and abroad (34 countries). 

More Articles by This Author

Add a Comment