My pet subject with my staff lately has been ‘listening’. I keep coming back to the notion that listening, not hearing, is essential in our business. Whether it is listening to the customer, our co-workers, our spouses, our hearts, our intuitions. Listening itself, is the bridge between selling and serving.
Are you hard of listening?
Recently I stumbled upon Rachmaninoff Symphony no.2 op.27 on a YouTube video. (Make no mistake, this is not something I do regularly.) I found this piece quite randomly, or should I say, it found me. It was hypnotizing. I should start by saying that most people can ‘hear’ the music on this video by simply turning the volume up. After just seconds of hearing, I began ‘listening’. It was only then that I recognized the subtle highs of the flutes, and the rumbling lows of the cello that I seemed to feel in my stomach. I had to concentrate. I had to shut out other sounds to zero in on what I wanted to listen to. I then began to recognize the difference. Hearing is something that happens. Listening is something you do.
Igor Stravinsky said “To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also.”
If we are not really listening to our customer’s needs, how can we serve them? The truth is, most of us enjoy the sound of our own voice so much, that we forget to listen to what the customer is saying. We so over-value our verbal contributions to the universe, that the only thing we end up serving is ourselves. Our customers come to us with a dilemma. The product that they currently own is not meeting their needs. If we listen, they will explain, in detail, how we can serve them.
We have to fight the urge to concoct our next verbal chess maneuver at the very time that we should be listening. This is the quickest way for us to disconnect.
Guilty. That one hurt.
We’ve all heard that God gave us two ears and one mouth. And that means that we should listen twice as much as we talk, right?
Maybe God did this because we need two chances to listen because we were too busy talking the first time.
Who’s your Danny?
To become an effective listener, you need to learn the power of silence. Silence gives you the opportunity to think about what is being said before you respond. -Unknown
Why am I unable to cope with the pressure of the WalMart ‘Self Checkout’ process? As I am taking my final purchases to the front, panic sets in when I notice the availability of the self checkout lanes compared to the full service lane. It is so tempting. This should be much faster, right? How hard could it be? After all, with all due respect, my assumed capabilities at least equal those who have scanned my goods previously, right? I couldn’t be more wrong. I am an idiot. It seems that after, say, my third item, the machine starts picking on me. “Please place item in the bagging area!” the menopausal voice sternly suggests. Great, now I am a criminal. I have been informally accused of shoplifting a Renuzit deodorizer simply because it doesn’t exceed the density necessary to trigger the sack sensor. Cue Ruth, the self checkout czar. She approaches, rolling her eyes as if to say, “We can train a salamander to operate this!” Instead she lets out a sigh as she enters a 63-digit passcode and swipes her Frequent Swiper card that’s tethered by a red mini-slinky to her slightly undersized polypants that she purchased less than 50 feet away with her employee discount. (Breath, Danny..1…2…3…) Ok, I’m better. Three items down, 53 to go. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice, lurking in my cart somewhere in between a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos and a can of Ravioli, something green. Yes, it’s bell peppers. Now I’m looking at the prospect of having to weigh an item and then looking it up on the Wallyvision screen using some sick version of the Dewey-decimal system. Let me remind you, I am the one who couldn’t scan a bluebonnet-scented room deodorizer 25 seconds ago. I’m quite sure I’m in for another scolding at the hands of my new nemesis behind the blue pulpit. Screw it. I’m leaving my stuff in line. Flaming Hot Cheetos be damned. I’m headed to Taco Bueno.