How Well Do You Really Listen?

I went into a meeting the other day with a client. There were several of us sitting around the table and we got into talking about a new strategy.

Of course, I became excited about the idea and starting speaking quickly and providing recommendations on how to move forward.

Then I realized I was making a big mistake!

I was like a horse charging forward to reach the riverbed and enjoy some water to quench my thirst. The problem was I wasn’t supposed to be quenching my thirst, but rather my client’s.

Within 30 seconds or less I realized my error and pulled back the reins. I did a 180 and send to my client “all of that is fine, but I really want to hear what you think about this situation.”

That may not seem like a big action worth writing a whole post about…

But looks can be deceiving.

This is indeed a very powerful principle. I turned the tables and empowered my client. I let them do the talking and I proceeded to guide the conversation.

The client felt that their input was being heard. I let them do the talking. I listened and asked questions.

You can’t find the root of a client’s problem when you’re the one jabbering away.

Listening and asking is what helps you uncover the real issues.

By the way. The meeting turned out great.

Ask yourself next time you’re in a meeting with a consulting client…are you listening enough? Are you empowering your client? Are you in control of the conversation?

Simple idea. Powerful concept.

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  • I would agree it is apsolutely true, we often forget to listen to our clients and truly understand their problems or what do they relly want and need. Of course our job is to listen to the problem and guide clients toward their need as usualy they see the problem, but not the real cause.

    • Ivana – thanks for the comment! It’s great to hear that others feel the same way.

  • I approach conversations with customers as an interview. I am not there to present my ideas I am available to ask questions and seek clarity. I may not be as entertaining as television personalities but the goal is being met.

    • Jason – the interview mindset is a great approach. I’m sure you’re asking a lot of “why” questions. They are very powerful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sales people have always had this reputation as being “big talkers” when, in fact, the very best sales people are those who know how to listen … and how to ask the right questions.

  • Dan Wiersma

    I could not help but think about Steven Covey’s 7 Principles and the one that said “Seek first to understand before being understood.” I have always fallen back on that single principle in my working career and it applies in consulting as well.

  • Sri Ram

    Great post Micheal.. have always felt that speaking AFTER listening thoughts up open ended questions…these in turn facilitate reflection, introspection and dialogue..all so basic for problem solving…no wonder the Maker gave us two ears and one mouth..

    • Sri – glad to see you enjoyed the post and thanks for your comment!