TNNWC Publications And Informational Products Division publishes The National Networker (TNNWC) Weekly Newsletter and The BLUE TUESDAY Report especially for entrepreneurs and early-stage venturers; free weekly subscriptions to these informative publications are available online to all entrepreneurial Members of TNNWC.

Membership in TNNWC is free (it's automatic for any subscriber to any TNNWC Publication) and available at our website. When you arrive there, just click on any of the JOIN US or BECOME a MEMBER buttons or links.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

SOUTH AFRICA: Seek First to Understand

By Karl Smith
South Africa Bureau Chief

It is generally agreed that the way we see things through the eyes of our minds has a significant impact on our own success. This picture is also referred to as our frame of reference, our paradigm…a perception of reality through which we integrate, evaluate, and interpret new persons, events and ideas… I have worked with thousands of people in my career and I was often frustrated by the many change management and teamwork interventions we embarked upon because it was a decision made by the top executives. None of these intervention experts even considered our current frame of reference relating to change, teamwork and other issues. They failed to invest time to see where we come from, our frame of reference. If everyone could live by this principle to always attempt to understand one’s frame of reference, which perspective we come from when we speak or do something, then it will be must more happier or productive place.

When we employed our first Xhosa speaking staff member at one of the many companies where I worked, some of my staff were up in arms, because in their minds he had no planning skills for the many school related projects for which he was responsible. It was only when I told them that he hails from a community where you provide for unexpected guests because of their culture to be hospitable when they showed empathy for his challenge. Through my facilitation to always understand where people come from I have build a formidable team who achieved success beyond expectations. Today, that staff member is a Chief Executive Officer and I have many other similar success stories. You foster better business relationships if you understand where people where they come from. It is a skill so needed in business today from employee to the boardroom, to connecting with people and to dealing with difficult people. The ability to show “empathy”, to put yourself in the shoes of others, to exchange places is a vital skill in building business relationships. “Seek first to understand” requires deep paradigm shift. We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to answer.

I am a keen reader and I frequent coffee shops with a book in the hand. One day, I overheard the manager shouting at a waiter for accepting and paying for an order without having the delivery note signed. The poor waiter cringed and he tried to explain that the manager was not there when the delivery arrived and that he just wanted to help! In my mind the manager should have listened and understand that somewhere along his short life this young waiter was taught to be helpful in the absence of a manager. He should then have empowered the waiter by explaining the procedures and then give him a second change. What a benefit to the waiter and the manager! You see networking skills benefit people wherever they have interaction with others.

Extract from Karl’s book entitled, “Beyond The Business Handshake - Dare To Build High- Trust Business Relationships. Karl is the owner of Business Networking South Africa, a division of ExecuEdge Consulting- a successful consulting and business relationships training company.

Visit to see Karl in action, see what Karl’s clients says, book Karl to speak or to do in-company training, attend a public event, subscribe to his newsletter or to use the free networking resources or him at

For more, check out Karl's TNNW Bio.

Posted to THE NATIONAL NETWORKER (TNNW). All rights reserved.

To subscribe for your free TNNW Newsletter, go to For the complete National Networker (TNNW) Relationship Capital Toolkit and a free continuous RSS feed (available either by traditional RSS or by direct email), go to:

You are also invited to click our buttons:

Forward/Share This Article With Colleagues And Social Media:

No comments:

Blog Archive

BNI News Feed

The Emergence of The Relationship Economy

The Emergence of The Relationship Economy
The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


Site Credits:

Featured in Alltop
ALLTOP Business
News Wire. HOT.
Cool Javascript codes for websites  Fabulous Free Calendars

Create FREE graphics at