It was an intimate place, just a handful of tables, quiet music and attentive but not overbearing waiting staff. The perfect setting for a blind date, which I could barely believe I had agreed to. He was courteous, polite and the conversation began in quite a charming way. The first time he interrupted me answering his question, I put it down to nerves and enthusiasm. After a while I realized that he didn’t listen to a word I said and was running a solo show. It was a short date.
When I heard they were interviewing this particular business woman, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. I was so curious to hear her story, her insights, the key elements that contributed to her success. So I was stunned when the interviewer kept interrupting her and didn’t let her answer the question he has asked before he led on to the next week. She was gracious and I was super frustrated. A familiar story.
It was a sales meeting, I was the Training Manager, she was a consultant with a very cool company I was interested in hiring. I had invited her to meet with me. If you’ve ever tried to sell your services you know this is a great opportunity and can be quite rare. She seemed well prepared and immediately launched into an in-depth description of the services they offer. The problem was that she just kept talking and talking and didn’t even ask what it was I was looking for.
You see the greatest gift I have ever received from both Coaching and Storytelling has been the ability and desire to listen. Really listen. Yes, just shut up and hear the other person.
If it’s in a business situation – you’ve got to hear their needs before you can support them.
If it’s in coaching, when you really hear someone, they hear themselves too.
If it’s in your life – the greatest gift you can give someone is in your listening. The greatest gift of all.
It’s not easy to let go of what we are sure we know. It’s not easy to hold back when we have something relevant to say. It’s not easy to listen without judgement or formulating our own response.
And yet, the greatest moments of clarity, generosity and enlightenment often come out of silence and deep listening.
Do you need to ‘shut up’ somewhere today?
With love, always, I’d love to hear your story – I’m listening.