The Practice of Listening. Slow Down, Be Quiet
Here’s counter-culture advice in our high-speed, instant-message, do-it-now culture. Slow down. Be Quiet.
I met with a woman yesterday who was intent on selling her company’s services to me and I was amazed at how quickly she spoke and how little she heard of what I wanted. Although I wanted to tell her to shut up and listen for just five seconds, I recognized that our meeting was all about her. My crude advice would have fallen on deaf ears. Did she get the sale? Heavens no. Did she win an advocate? No way. In fact, I’ll advise people I know to avoid her.
That’s a big long-term price to pay for talking too much and being oblivious to what’s happening around you.
Before you go anywhere or say anything, think about what you want to accomplish. How will you go about it? At a recent networking event, I heard a sales guy say “I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” Then I watched his obnoxious behavior and how it repelled everyone around him. It was humorous from a distance, but I sure didn’t want him glomming on to me.
Practice listening carefully and thinking about what a person says to you. If it triggers another question, ask it and be quiet. You’ll be amazed at the amount of information you can gather in a short period of time. A quieter presence is comforting in our hyperactive world. Provided it’s engaged. You can demonstrate engagement with eye contact, a nod of your head to signal your understanding, or a pertinent question.
If you’re used to being in control or running the show, you’ll struggle with this advice. But try it. Work on it. Practice critical thinking before you charge into the next “opportunity.” I think you’ll like what happens.