Monday, October 02, 2006

A Swedish Lesson

I enjoyed a great evening last Monday when I delivered a talk on networking skills at The Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the United Kingdom in London.

At a pre-event briefing I had been told that the Swedes are notoriously shy, not something that I could believe easily, having had a Swedish flatmate ten years ago! However, putting my reservations to one side, I promised to help the Chamber's members overcome their fears and meet lots of new people on the evening. Wallflowers would not be allowed!

There was no cause for any concern! Rarely have I experienced an audience so comfortable networking, so happy to approach new people and chat. Often when I ask people to introduce themselves to someone they haven't met before, they exchange a greeting and then turn around to listen to me again. Not the Swedes! I found myself struggling to STOP the networking. It really was a great pleasure, not work at all.

During the meeting I found myself talking to Kurt Larsson of Bosbec Communication. Kurt had flown in that afternoon on a week long trip from Stockholm. After my talk, Kurt told me that the Swedes had a word that described perfectly one of the things I had been talking about.

The word that Kurt mentioned was Lyhördhet and it means 'Listening with all the senses'. I often talk about 'listening for' each other and refer to Steven Covey's 'empathetic listening'. But rarely have I heard this skill so well described and never in just one word.

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