Listen to learn or Learn to listen?





~Vedashree Patankar

Deepa starts out the session by saying ‘Today we shall learn how to listen’. The Learning Monday session is underway, and I think to myself how hard can it be to listen? I’ve done it for almost 15 years of my life through school and college.

But this session would prove just how wrong I was in my thinking.

To start with, everyone was divided into pairs, one member had to speak and the other had to listen intently for 3 minutes. Again, I got excited at the prospect of talking, but my input stepped in to say ‘Hey, the brief is to listen’. But what exactly, am I to do? The gravitas of the situation started to build up.

Teams dispersed into corners to complete the task, once the 3-minute mark was crossed, each team was asked to debrief. The fascinating thing was each team came across different sets of barriers. Points were missed out; some interpretations were made.  Smita derived that there was a difference between listening and hearing, while Sweta and Monica came across some inherent biases in their thinking. On the other hand, Shilpa got analytical and Sudha got empathetic.

Each team utilised their top 5 strengths to glean the most out of the exercise. It displayed the versatility of the strengths and their ability to be permeable in every situation.

What I gathered through this exercise was, that if a simple task given to a group of researchers and non-researchers alike could come across road blocks, what would it be like in a focused discussion or a detailed interview. The respondents would come in with their own baggage and history, how does one deal with that?

Just as if she read my thoughts, Deepa started to explain ORID. A tool to overcome the barriers, to effective listening. ORID – Objective, Reflective, Interpretative and Decisional. This is the grown-up version of ‘Think before you speak’. Paraphrasing it, I would say reflect and interpret before you take any decisions.

As researchers, we must always be careful, never jumping to conclusions but rather walking purposefully towards them.

The session wrapped on types of listening each person undertakes, unattentive and pretending through attentive and active listening and finally Emphatic listening. To be an emphatic listener one must be emotionally connected to the speaker, we must align our mind to be receptive to everything he has to say. This is where we will get the most out of that interaction. It is not a mere tick on the box but rather adding value to your life.

Ultimately this value addition determines the quality of information and in turn your insight, into the psyche of the consumer.

In conclusion, I ‘listened’ intently to what the session had to offer and came out enriched and excited to put my new-found knowledge to the test.

1992 - 1996
1997 - 2001
2001 - 2007
2013 - 2019


Deepa starts working at Hindustan Unilever Ltd., and after working there for a few years decides to take a career break to take care of her son. The family plans to move to Jamaica, and she wishes to resume working. There are not a lot of opportunities post a career break for her, and this makes her realise the plight of women all across the world who are trying to resume working after taking a break. The seed for Lumière is planted. Deepa joins J.A. Young Research Ltd. to get back to her roots, and ultimately decides to start her own firm under her CA's advise.



Start of Lumière Consultancy in Jamaica



The family is aching to return to India, and post the birth of her second child, Deepa gets an offer from HUL to rejoin them. She has an itch to make it on her own, and so declines. This results in a different type of engagement between the two, and Lumière engages exclusively with HUL by expanding their scope. Deepa builds a stronghold in consumer behavior, and Lumière develops into an entity of its own. Inception of 'Consumer Centricity', which is their future key to strength, begins. With an expansion in their work, they need more resources and a group of like-minded talented professional women to join the team. Lumière gives them solace, a place to grow, rebuild their careers, and achieve goals beyond their expectations. They begin with mentoring initiatives, with an urge to inspire young individuals. People approach them through word-of-mouth, references, and to create opportunities beyong market research, Lumière becomes a Pvt. Ltd. company.



An opportunity arises to be a part of something big, to analyse the growth mindset and the creation of a best practice document for sequential recycling. Lumière makes an impact across categories and branches into Product Testing and Category Creation.



Lumière touches ₹ 1 crore. Their brochure is presented at MRSI. The company turns 10, and Milind joins the team as an observer. This becomes the phase of Lumière's upheavel: from scaling up, digitization and automation of processes, to plugging in leakages across departments and accounts. Their billings reach ₹ 3 crores.



Rashmi Bansal dedicates a chapter of her book 'Follow Every Rainbow' to Deepa and Lumière. The company enters adulthood, and they facilitate change management for Lumière. The introduction of the Gallup Strengths to the portfolio is a game changer. A revamp of the technological infrastructure ensues, giving way to an articulation of Lumière 3.0.