I don’t know about you but I feel we live in an age where everyone seems to be shouting and very few people are listening. Companies are screaming out their marketing messages and now even some friends have fallen into the trap of effectively yelling via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. What’s happen to the lost art of someone listening and giving you their undivided attention?
Mobile phones are incredibly useful devices but one of the most under-rated features would have to be the off switch. I get so frustrated when I’ve travelled to the other side of the world to meet with someone and they’re constantly glancing at their phone. I may be smiling but inside I’m resisting the temptation to grab their phone and stomp on it.
A few years ago I was having a lunch meeting where it became clear that anyone that called/texted/facebooked the person I was meeting with had priority over me. While they were on their fifth phone call I texted them and it effectively said, “Let me know when you’re available for our lunch meeting.”
If you’re waiting on an important call or message, then just apologise by letting the person in front of you know. Doing this is respectful and plain just good manners.
Sitting above our dinner table at home is a sign which says, “This is a phone free zone”. Both my wife Roselyn and I believe that having dinner without phones isn’t a big ask of our children. When the sign first went up there was some scepticism until one of the kids quickly checked their phone at dinner and just as fast mum whisked their dinner towards the trash can. Luckily for them it didn’t get dumped but they got the message.
In a world where we are constantly being bombarded with messages, listening to the person in front of you has almost become a lost art. To have someone give you their complete and undivided attention is sadly, almost archaic. There’s a very good reason why we have two ears and one mouth….we should all be listening twice as much as we speak.
Giving someone your undivided attention is not only respectful but amazing things seem to happen. Business can get done, you often learn something new and problems can suddenly easily be solved.
I recently went to the local optometrist, had my eyes checked and not surprisingly need to up my prescription. After wearing my new glasses for a couple of weeks I really wasn’t happy as their seemed to be a problem with them. I went back to the optometrist met with a staff member who said I needed to make an appointment with the manager.
I returned a few days later and the manager said that I needed to meet with the resident optometrist. I again returned a few days later and the optometrist didn’t bother to ask me any questions but wanted to test my eyes again. I stopped her and in some frustration said, “Can someone please just listen to me rather than jump to conclusions!”
There was a bit of stunned silence at my outburst so I took advantage of this and explained the problem I was having with the glasses and within a few minutes a solution was worked out. They just needed to learn to listen to the customer before the customer goes somewhere else.
I’m just as guilty as many of the people in my above examples…..but probably like them, I’m working on the problem. I lead an exceedingly busy life but that is no excuse for being rude and not giving someone my undivided attention. Please accept my apology if I have been rude to you in this manner. Likewise, let’s all learn to listen attentively before we speak.....in the meantime I just need to go and tweet, facebook and Google+ this post. ;-)
Have a great weekend!
Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.
Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.