While dining with some very good friends, our conversation turned to resolutions, in honor of the impending new year. At first the responses around the table were rather typical, but then someone made an interesting comment. He said, “I decided a few years ago, on July 6th to be exact, to start listening.” While he was actually referring to conversations with his wife and the presents he would surprise her with at Christmas, it got me to start thinking about the parallels of this approach to the business world and the continuous effort required to be successful at it.
Every one of us would likely say that to be successful in our job we need to listen to our customers, patients, clients, patrons, or subscribers. This seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. How many times do you notice just the opposite when you are the customer? The clerk looks bored when you approach the counter; the waiter forgot to refill your drink; there was no return call; your concerns were quickly dismissed. Sound familiar? The problem with all of these examples is an obvious disconnect. We may hear the word “listen” and know what it means, but get stuck at the “hearing” part. We hear it, but then we stop. We may think we are listening, but the true art of listening requires active engagement.
Active engagement means:
- Giving another person your full and complete attention.
- Waiting for them to finish what they are saying and not interrupting with your response.
- Not assuming you know what they are trying to say.
- You value them, even if you disagree with them.
- Most importantly, that you care more about the relationship than you do about “selling them something.”
What would happen to you and your business (whether you own it or not) if you made it a constant priority to really listen to what others were saying to you? Would you start to learn and understand more about the needs, concerns, and frustrations of your customers and prospects? Would that active engagement lead to stronger relationships? And, would that not also lead to other benefits like delighted customers, increased referrals, and, quite possibly, a growth in your revenue?
Keep it perpetual.