Seven Listening Apps
Seven Listening Apps
You are the expert. You’re known for your knowledge and expertise in your field. You’ve had a lot of experience. “You’ve seen it all.” And people with problems to solve and decisions to make– show up on your professional doorstep everyday.
Are there ways that all of your expertise and experience might actually get in the way? Could it be that you come away from conversations with prospects and clients – knowing they barely hearda word you said?
If you have or aspire to have an IPhone – here are 7 listening “apps” I’d suggest you download but in this case to your operating conversation manual. We’ve kept them as short as possible – easier for you remember and use when in the clutches of a live conversation with a client.
1. Give them the floor
Give your client “center stage.” The client is “the star” of this conversation. Who are you? You are the appreciative audience. What do appreciative audiences do? They enjoy, they applaud, they nod enthusiastically. What do appreciative audiences NOT do? They don’t “hurry” the performer, they don’t interrupt and they don’t take mental vacations or walk out on a performance.
2. Grant them an “A”
What if, you and I listened to each other – recount our opinions and experiences like we each have a PhD in each and every thing we say? Because we do—you and I have spent a lifetime honing the lens and filters through which we see the world. So when, you and I don’t welcome what others have to say – what happens is – the other person starts to push even harder to get your understanding – they start repeating, they raise their voice volume, they start to get upset. Resisting, disrespecting, discounting or minimizing things we aren’t interested in, feel we don’t have time for or don’t agree with doesn’t make them go away.
3. Go back to “first.”
This is the “app” for baseball fans. When we want people to move forward on an issue, as experts–we sometimes get ahead of them and literally leave them behind. There they are still at first base – often drowning in their circumstances and concerns. You’re rounding second base because you want to provide the best advice, best information or most appropriate “next steps” right? This is when you want to “go back to first” base and listen with genuine curious, empathy, and appreciation. Once clients feel heard – they are ready to start thinking with you and solving the problem and moving forward with you.
4. You be “Ginger.”
Okay –so this one is going to show your favorite entertainment era. Depending on what you watched, and what demographic you belong to – I mean Ginger Rogers. Apologies to those of you who thought I meant – Ginger Spice, Ginger from Gilligan’s Island or any other Ginger you know. If you don’t remember the dance artistry of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – ask your parents or grandparents. The old feminist joke is that Ginger was every bit the dancer that Fred was — because she did everything he did plus she did it all backwards and in high heels. So here’s the thing ––many times we go into conversations knowing we want to influence the other person in some way. Right? Clients, spouse (thank goodness there’s currently only one), kids, associates. And a reminder that there is a well documented human urge called “the reciprocity urge.” Bottom line of the reciprocity urge: whatever you want to “get from” another person, be willing to “give it first.” So you want your client to listen, understand and appreciate your contribution to and influence on their issues – then make it your job to understand and appreciate what they have to say first. You’ll more likely end up with the influence and impact you originally wanted to have on them. You dance backwards first. You be Ginger.
5. You say “potato.(and)”
Most of us can sing the first few lines of this old song: “you say potato, and I say potato, you say tomato, and I say tomato” – obviously the pronunciation differs between each pair. And it just rolls off our tongues and we definitely never get upset. But just think back to the last time, someone disagreed with you about something really important to you or something you know a lot about. Remember how your physiology altered and how paramount it became to make sure you got your point or perspective across. This is what I call: “white knuckling” a conversation. You are gripping so tightly to your perspective that your conversational knuckles are white. You become hell-bent on getting your point or perspective across. Yes? Sound familiar? What if, you could choose the sentiments of this song and allow them to say “potato” or “tomato” however they say it and hear them out fully. And then without anyone being “right” or “wrong”, you can calmly share your point of view or perspective. It would mean more of our conversations would be “and” rather than “but” conversations. “And” conversations include differences. “But” conversations usually makes one thing “right” and the other thing “wrong.” Interesting that the song lyricist wrote: “You say potato and I say to potato.”
6. Make this moment perfect.
This is our Zen listening “app”. This is the one we use when we’re thinking: “you want to do WHAT?” or “give me a break!” or “you’ve got to be kidding” or “oh no, not this again”. Choosing “make this moment perfect” allows you to provide more space in a conversation. Why is space important? It “ups” the chances that you get more and better information – which is why I say that listening has a huge ROI (return on investment – for you non financial types) – because with more and better information – there is a much higher like hood of your clients taking your advice, acting on your recommendations and trusting your judgment. So “make this moment perfect” – don’t rush. Make space. Don’t rush. Stay focused.
7. Remember Rule #6.
Here’s the one I use a lot. It comes in handy when our default mode (we all have default settings in our conversational software) of serious attachment to having “my say” kicks in. What I have to say is soooo significant. My attachment to my ideas and thoughts verge on emotional “life and death.” How many of us – attach our ego to our ideas and thoughts being right or the best. Here’s the great thing about using Rule #6 – it changes the mood of a conversation in a nanosecond. So you ask, what is Rule #6? Rule #6 says: “don’t take yourself so gall darn seriously!” Don’t we all admire people who can defuse pressure situations with a light touch? In other words, lighten up! And just in case, you’re curious about the other 5 rules. There aren’t any.
So try on these “apps” — like any new piece of software – they take practice. And remember, Stephen Covey’s old saw is still the most classic listening “app” of all time: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
by Carrol Suzuki