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21 Words of Wisdom

August 25, 2013
Mary Jane Copps

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!

5 COMMENTS

  1. Steve Foran says:

    So true. When you truly listen to the answer, you learn more that can help you but perhaps more importantly, you honour them and make them feel good about themselves. People will trust you when they get an overwhelming sense of being listened to… of being heard. One way is as you say, ask questions and listen.

  2. Linda Daley says:

    Mary Jane, listening has always been a challenge for me but I keep trying and I think I’m getting better. Thanks for continuing to remind me!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Listening is one of our most difficult tasks and as we become more busy inside our growing businesses, our ability to listen diminishes. It is a practice for sure and I know you are getting better!

  3. Kurt says:

    After seeing you mentioned in the wall street journal I was compelled to visit you site, and I have to admit, I was shocked to see “The Phone Lady”s first invitation to contact her was via email. A bit of a mixed message. But not to worry, as the national sales director for my company, I have no phone phobias. When your phone was not answered by a human being….and then went to voicemail…..I’m still trying to get my head around this.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Thanks, Kurt, for this message. You prompted me to go to my website immediately. My toll free number is prominent in the top right-hand corner of every page, so I’m confused by your impression. I’ll keep working on this though because you are right, it is a mixed message. In terms of voice mail … I teach busy executives to use their voice mail as their avatar, or receptionist. As I was onsite with clients today, I was unable to take your call in person. I do apologize that you did not feel welcomed by my message and I am taking your comment to heart.

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