A teacher teaching Maths to seven-year-old Arnav asked him, “If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?” Within a few seconds, Arnav replied confidently, “Four!”
The dismayed teacher was expecting an effortless correct answer (three). She was disappointed. “Maybe the child did not listen properly”, she thought. She repeated, “Arnav, listen carefully. If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?”
Arnav had seen the disappointment on his teacher’s face. He calculated again on his fingers. But within him, he was also searching for the answer that will make the teacher happy. His search for the answer was not for the correct one, but the one that will make his teacher happy. This time hesitatingly he replied, “Four…”
The disappointment stayed on the teacher’s face. She remembered that Arnav liked strawberries. She thought maybe he doesn’t like apples and that is making him lose focus. This time with an exaggerated excitement and twinkling in her eyes she asked, “If I give you one strawberry and one strawberry and one strawberry, then how many you will have?” Seeing the teacher happy, young Arnav calculated on his fingers again. There was no pressure on him, but a little on the teacher… She wanted her new approach to succeed. With a hesitating smile, young Arnav enquired, “Three?”
The teacher now had a victorious smile. Her approach had succeeded. She wanted to congratulate herself. But one last thing remained. Once again she asked him, “Now if I give you one apple and one apple and one more apple how many will you have?” Promptly Arnav answered, “Four!”
The teacher was aghast. “How Arnav, how?” she demanded in a little stern and irritated voice. In a voice that was low and hesitating, young Arnav replied, “Because I already have one apple in my bag.”
In our lives as entrepreneurs too, many times we ask questions or engage in conversations with our employees, partners, vendors, customers or even family members. However, when they give us an answer that is different from what we expect we immediately get agitated and judge them to be wrong, dumb or stupid.
This should not be the case, there may be an angle, a point of view or idea that we may not have understood, seen or imagined at all behind their responses. Therefore, it is important that we listen and understand what is being said, carefully rather than having preconceived notions and judgments. We must develop the habit of understanding the entire perspective before we react to a situation or person. Creating an environment where people are unafraid to speak up, share their ideas and responses even if they are contradictory to our thoughts, is essential for us to broaden our horizons. A robust two-way communication plays a key role if we want to evolve to the next level and become a good human being. Needless to say, adopting an open approach towards people and their ideas is one of the most essential key to make a difference as an Entrepreneurs, a Boss, a Vendor, a Supplier, a spouse or any other role that we play every day.