"But what is it you really work with, Per?"
I get this question from time to time in the workplace. Over the years it has, contrary to my expectations, become harder to answer. Not because I do not know, but because it is not readily summarised in an easily digestible product name.
Clients wish to purchase UX, or accessibility, or something else to do with digital design. Or perhaps a workshop facilitator, coach or course leader. Someone who fits in a template.
My strength, and weakness, has always been that I do not fit the template. And do not wish to. I can be all the things asked for. On paper. But I also must be allowed to be something more. Maybe that's why, 13 years ago, I started my own company.
I am a listener.
I listen to what you say. And intensely to what you do not say. It might align with tone of voice, choice of words, or body language. But I have difficulty explaining it any other way than this: when I listen I can hear what you already know but haven't yet heard yourself say.
Being a listener has provided me with enormous advantages. I do not rush in vain. When others are in a hurry to deliver, and create, they soon become entangled in thoughts and ideas that are difficult to let go, even as they clash with reality.
I wait until I am confident not setting off in the wrong direction. Try a few small steps, and listen. Again and again during two decades of work with digital solutions I have seen the tortoise reach the goal ahead of the hare.
The problem you have identified is perhaps not the one you need to address first. The solution you see so clearly may have several paths with very different outcomes.
As a listener I can provide what creates more wellbeing within the organisation, within you and within stakeholders impacted by your operations. It may not always turn out the way you had in mind, but often it becomes something immensely valuable.
Sometimes when I've listened a while and someone in a meeting notices my silence I am asked the question, "What do you think, Per?"
It's at this point I stand, walk up to a whiteboard, and describe what I have heard. What has been said, but not always out loud. If it's a digital solution it could be an interface I draw. If it's a strategy it could be a timeline. If it's about decision-making I perhaps sketch a flowchart.
Are you curious about what I would say? Perhaps it's time to hire me.
You have my permission to place any label you want on my role.
But I will be a listener.