Humans really are bizarre creatures. No other animal can be this smart and this blissfully unaware, whilst straining every sinew to be both.
If you get the chance, hang out in a CBD coffee shop for an hour or so.
It will be easy to tap away at your blog posts whilst eavesdropping unnoticed on the conversations of the business types at adjacent tables. You will hear some wonderful stuff.
There is the youngster with a tight haircut and equally tight pants trying to convince the senior exec that there really is something in the deal with the Saudis.
On an adjacent table a female IT consultant is negotiated out of a decent deal by a hard nosed CEO who took patronising to dizzying heights. “Perhaps you can just offer us a fixed price because, you know, when service providers give us an hourly rate price range they always charge at the high end” he suggests without a hint of a facial expression.
Another upwardly mobile CEO, not quite able to pull off the tight pants, holds forth with a real estate agent hoping to sell some office space. After half an hour of grand ideas and growth about to touch the stars, the deal is done for space only slightly larger than a shoebox. The agent is visibly deflated.
Then there is the pretty young woman on the phone to a guy who couldn’t quite make it for lunch. That was sad.
And just to prove I am not the only practitioner of the eavesdropping art, I was astounded to be interrupted in my own sinew stretching pitch to a VC by a lady on the adjacent table who had listened in and just had to tell us what she knew about our idea. That, of course, is breaking every bit of eavesdrop etiquette.
What an hour of surreptitious listening will tell you is that business people are pretty smart. They know a lot about what they do and how to get their own way.
And it will also tell you that people have no idea of anything outside their bubble. They don’t see the end of their own nose let alone the one on the person opposite.
It is quite a skill actually. To be so unaware requires true devotion to your own head. These practitioners of unawareness must live in blissful isolation lest they notice something off message. It is remarkable.
Eavesdropping can be a lot of fun. Choose a coffee shop frequented by the suited and give it a try some time. Nobody will notice you doing it.