I’m an observer. I like to listen to people a lot more than I like to talk.
It’s not that I’m worried about talking – rather, I learn more when I listen. And, I find people to be fascinating. It’s simple, isn’t it?
Ironically, as a marketing and business management consultant, my job seems to be to talk --- share what I know, help people get better and grow their businesses.
Let me let you in on a secret.
When I facilitate strategic discussions with organizations, or run departmental meetings for clients, I don’t talk very much. I don’t force the discussion to go one way or another.
Most of the time, the clients have good ideas that have not been explored or, even, discussed openly. When I’ve done my best work, I’ve asked questions and facilitated a discussion that was needed --- where those hidden ideas become visible.
After I’ve completed my preparation, my strategy in the meeting boils down to 4 words – probably the best 4 words of advice I ever received.
Ask Questions AND Listen.
By following that advice, I’ve managed to build better teams. I’ve learned more that is of value. I’ve learned to ask better questions. I’ve learned on a daily basis that I have so much more to learn.
Of course, I share what I know appropriately. I think of it more as teaching. For me, the best teachers are engaging. They teach, share and encourage new ways of thinking. And, they ask questions.
I was on a call recently with a client and another “expert” in our industry. The conversation was supposed to be about helping the client. Trust me --- They needed help!
However, the other expert on the call seemed to know everything. He had ALL the answers. Just ask him. He would not listen to new ideas and new concepts – even when the client seemingly begged him to listen and reconsider his position.
It was amazing and frustrating.
It seemed like his goal was to make everyone else feel stupid.
In fact, we just felt like it was a waste of time. The client had goals and ideas that NEEDED to be heard. They NEEDED to be discussed.
After the conclusion of our conference call, the client called me back and asked if I knew anyone else that could help with the expertise they were hoping to get from the “expert” on the call with us.
He was so smart that the client didn’t want to work with him any longer. He just wouldn’t listen.
Be a sponge. Listen. Learn.
You will be better for it. And the team you are working with will probably find you to be much more valuable to them.