This quote, by Henry David Thoreau, came across my desk this week:
The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.
There’s a lot of wisdom in these 21 words.
Asking our customers and potential customers to share their thoughts is not only a compliment, it is a sign of respect. Our aim is to deliver the best possible service. We can’t do that without learning everything there is to know about our customers’ needs. And we can’t know about their needs without asking.
This is as simple as ending a presentation or discussion with the question: “What are your thoughts?”
But there’s another step … listening. Many of us are good at asking questions but allow our email, or papers on our desk, or even the voices in our head, to distract us from hearing the answer.
The disrespect of not listening cancels all previous goodwill.
So with September looming and that feeling of renewal in the air, let’s make a pledge to practice asking more questions and really listening to the answers. We’re bound to experience what A.J. Jacobs described in a recent LinkedIn post: “… I also talked on the phone. As in just talked. … The key is to close the eyes and remove temptation. So much less stressful. It’s a blissful freedom from choice that leads to phone conversations with – here’s the amazing thing — actual substance.”
Here’s to more – and more – substantial conversations. What will you do to practice asking more questions and to eliminate your distractions?
Enjoy your phonework!