Over the last eleven years in Toastmasters one of the greatest growth-factors for me was not becoming a better speaker (though I’ve improved lots) but that I became a better listener. In large measure that has come through doing evaluations – because you can’t evaluate someone’s speech if you don’t listen really well. Both for what you hear, but for what you don’t hear. For what has meaning and makes sense. And for what doesn’t. For passion, or the lack of it. Great training.
But some recent experiences have demonstrated for me, that in the listening department – I’m an amateur listener.
I don’t mean ‘John Lennon style imagine’, but rather ‘imagine what someone is like’.
Could be someone you now a little, or a lot. Could be a complete stranger.
I had coffee yesterday with someone I know a little – and after an hour I realized how little I knew before, and how little I know now, about a fascinating person. I’ve known him for many years – I’ve known a bit about his work and we’ve done some work but never transacted any business. He is an expert in his field. I presumed that was a large part of his life. While it is, I had no idea how much other things – his interests, his passions, are beyond anything I would have imagined.
Yesterday I had a meeting – a great conversation with a guy I scarcely know. Again, I learned about his business, but mostly I learned about someone, about what makes him tick. I met other people too, at that office. I’ll be back to hear more stories.
Something I’ve been learning, albeit a few decades later that I wish I had, that the most important part of business relationships and selling is listening. Sure, I’ve always focused on asking probing questions – then listening for the answers. Yesterday, I was just into listening, listening, listening. Amazing, what I heard. What I learned. What I thought afterward.
I’m an amateur listener, but hoping to turn pro sometime soon.
column written/ published from Calgary
morning walk: 8C/46F, socked in, low ceiling, raining-lite, we jogged-lite, splashed all the way home .. Gusta like a soggy rag and me with 1/ my workout done before I headed to the gym
I appreciate your musing about routine and habits. It will be good to be home for a good long stretch to embrace our new routine again, and to continue to chart it. In the meantime, being on the road is an adventure, LL, Vancouver, BC (from Charlottetown)
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