Thursday, March 22, 2007

is it really this simple?

Today, I listened to a student give a presentation on writing correspondence to customers. He struggled through the formats suggested by his textbook, clearly having little experience on which to hang the information he was presenting to a small group. Afterwards we talked, and I asked questions. He knew that customers want to know you are listening, to feel respected, and to know what you have to say. You want, in return, for them to understand that your decisions (or product offerings) don't come out of thin air. All business is primarily a dialogue between individuals or entities with something to trade.

Why is this a difficult concept? It's quite likely that at some point today you had a business interaction where it was absolutely clear that no one was listening to you. It's quite likely that you said something that went unheard, in part because you yourself were not listening. You wanted to get the message out quickly, and you thought that meant skipping a step. We all tend to assume that listening is the least vital of communication skills.

Listening is not optional if you want to be heard. Voice is optional - people can "hear" between the lines even when you don't say a word.

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