Thursday, March 03, 2005

Reader or Listener?

Are you a reader or a listener? Peter F. Drucker brings up this interesting discussion in his book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century. We all know about right-handed and left-handed people. Right-handed people tend to do things better with their right hands and can feel awkward working with their left hands. The same can be said of left-handed people.

Similarly, people are either readers or listeners. There are some who can understand and react better if they read something and there are others who can perform better by listening. And if you ask a ‘reader’ to listen or a ‘listener’ to read, then you are looking for trouble. Recognizing someone as either a ‘reader’ or ‘listener’ can help you get the best out of the person. So, if your boss is a reader you are better off communicating via email or if your co-worker is a listener, walking up to their desk and talking may get you the desired results.

These characteristics can be observed in students too. Schools are more oriented towards listeners as it is easy for one teacher to talk to a group of students in a classroom. You’ll only see mediocre performance by students who are readers, while listeners might excel.

So, how do you identify someone as a reader or listener? How about starting with the relation between you and that person? Do you find it difficult to communicate, are there differences or you just can’t understand each other? If yes, maybe you are writing to a listener or talking to reader. So if you feel that you’ve been talking in vain, maybe it’s time to write. At the same time you should convey your preferred means of communication too.

Communicating in someone’s preferred way would do a lot in building relations. Whether its employer-employee, husband-wife, parent-child or teacher-student, all relations will turn for the better.

That makes me think, ‘Am I writing for a listener?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Free Knowledge

The value of knowledge can’t be assessed by the amount of money paid to obtain it. Knowledge is valuable when it is applied at the right time, right place and for the right cause.

In the pursuit of knowledge we spend a lot of money attending universities and various training programs. In most cases, knowledge is delivered without the right tools to apply that knowledge. The question arises, what is it then that we should seek, knowledge itself or knowledge about the knowledge?

With the advent of the Internet most knowledge is freely available. Take the case of MIT’s OpenCourseWare. It is a publication of course materials from over 900 courses offered at MIT. All this for free! You get access to information that is actually used in MIT classrooms. So, here’s all the knowledge from a reputed institute available at the click of a button.

Does that mean nobody needs to attend classes at MIT anymore and can getaway by reading the online material? NO! Very few individuals have the capability to capture knowledge and at the same time realize its usability. Everyone else needs the guidance of an experienced teacher, who will train you to effectively apply the knowledge. That is why most of need to sit in a classroom.

But, can we strive to be one of the few who can realize the value of knowledge? Yes, if we consistently seek a means to apply the knowledge that we possess and seek the knowledge that we don’t possess. It is that attitude of constantly applying and seeking knowledge that will take us to that state. And then knowledge will be truly free!