Here's a puzzle.
I'm often asked to do one to one coaching with writers to hone their novels into shape for publication.
And this doesn't happen often, thankfully, but it does sometimes occur.
I do my bit, carefully reading through their opening chapter and thinking about what might be needed to improve it.
Then sit down with the writer in question, take them through my ideas...
And they look at me, and tell me I've got it completely wrong, and I don't know what I'm talking about.
Now, it's perfectly true I may indeed have got it wrong, and even more possible that I don't know what I'm talking about.
But, in fairness, I have managed to help a few writers get published over the years, and more importantly...
If you want my opinion, and are even prepared to pay for it, why then immediately discard it?
I don't claim to be a world expert on anything, but a few bits of life I do have a decent insight into.
Interviewing, for example.
So when I was asked by the excellent Swanwick Writers' Summer School to host a chat show, as per this photo, I did, and all seemed to go well.
Partly because the organisers listened to my thoughts on how it should be done, and together we made it happen. Voila!
And likewise with one of the lovely writers I met at Swanwick this year.
Who I had to give bad news to, in our one to one session; that the start of their novel really didn't work the way it was.
I did it gently, and kindly, and constructively, they nodded and listened, and a day later...
Ambushed me with an entirely rewritten chapter, which was absolutely great and fit for any publisher to behold.
But too often the opposite happens.
Whether it's with some of the people I help with their communications skills, or writers, or whatever.
About this underrated art of mine...
It can take you a very long way.
If you put your ego aside.
And take notice of those with a dab of expertise in their chosen field.
If you take a moment to stop talking.
And instead, do some listening.