There is a subject that’s really a lost art these days — it’s the power of listening. Even though no one seems to be doing it very well, it’s one that I think would really benefit you as a leader, business owner, CEO or executive. I’m not just talking about listening in general, but I mean really listening intently and ferociously!
Focus on Who You are With
I’m going to tell you a little story about listening that I learned when I was younger. The story’s really about my dad. My dad’s greatest gift was his ability to listen intensely to people. Whether that was at work, in a family gathering or with friends. He had this ability to make you feel like you were the only person in the world and that he was totally focused on you all the time. So the result I saw from him doing this through his life was that people had tremendous respect for him. He was a great influence on people’s lives, and people just absolutely loved him. He set a great example.
Don’t be This Person!
We may not all have good examples of people that listen well, but we all have had terrible examples! Maybe it was a situation where you’ve gone to a restaurant or you’re in line at the airport and somebody wasn’t listening to you when you had a need. Maybe you had a problem or question and you knew they weren’t hearing a word you said. It felt as if they were reading from a script or just going through the motions. They weren’t “engaged” in listening to what you were saying. This gives us a terrible feeling. What do we do in those situations? Well, if we can, we usually find somewhere else to do business next time or find someone else to have that conversation or relationship with.
Really Pay Attention
So one of the things I want to talk to you about and challenge you is this idea that when you’re with your people (particularly with your customers or people that are working with customers), pay attention to how intentionally and focused you are. Are you really listening to what the customer or the employee (these are the people I call your “first customer”) is saying when you’re with them? Or, are you on your phone or paying attention to your computer instead? Are you already thinking about the next meeting or are you already distracted by other things? Or are you really focused and present with that person and listening intently?
Practice the Art of Listening
If you really want to transform a relationship with a customer or with one of your employees, go ahead and start practicing listening ferociously, listening intensively and that’s not only making eye contact, but that’s being totally focused on them. That might even be taking notes! When you do this, notice how those relationships change. See what comes out of this change in how you listen. I bet your results will be better than you had ever anticipated because listening has great rewards. Listening is how we lead ourselves to learning new things. When we learn things about our first customers (our employees) and our paying customers, and when we deeply listen to them, we learn things that our competitors don’t know because they’re not listening.
In our world of all the noise, social media and distractions, the few people that practice deep and intense listening have an unfair advantage over everybody else in this world. So today the lesson is, listen intensely, practice it, focus it, get better at it, and then come back to us and share your results. We’d love to hear about how it’s changed your business, your experience and your transformation as a leader.
Make it a great day.