By Kathleen E. Murphy
How many times have you caught yourself half listening to the person you are speaking to? We are all guilty of this, but should be working on becoming better listeners with every conversation we are engaged in. Have you ever considered how much information you might be missing when you are only semi listening? When you are actively listening and fully engaged in the conversation, you will be amazed at how much satisfaction you can gain from the conversation.
A friend of mine told me a heartwarming story last week about a conversation he had with one of his patients a few years ago. The woman was receiving physical therapy to relieve chronic pain she was experiencing, and she was in the final stage of her life. Despite the pain she was in, she was the type of person who was always thinking of others, especially her family. During one of her sessions with my friend, she conversationally revealed a wish she had for her son to be fulfilled. Her son had been a hockey player all his life, and when he went through a divorce, his ex-wife got rid of all of his hockey equipment. He was a goalie, so the hockey equipment was very expensive. Playing hockey brought joy to his life, but when his equipment had been given away, he stopped playing the game and became very sad.
The woman passed away, but my friend remembered her story because he was actively engaged and listening to her. Within a year of her death, my friend who is also a hockey player, remembered his clients dying wish of having her son getting back into playing hockey again. My friend never forgot this conversation and thought about how he could do something about what he had heard. He ended up obtaining some used goalie hockey equipment and put it into a bag. He then found out where the son of the woman lived, and one day he showed up on his front doorstep with a bag full of goalie hockey equipment. The son could not believe a total stranger had done this for him, and was overwhelmed with emotion. My friend and this total stranger became very close friends. This friendship developed out of my friend’s ability to truly listen, and to go beyond listening and compassionately and actively do something with the information he heard. Since the day the man received the goalie equipment, he has been playing and enjoying his love of hockey once again.
What if there were more people like my friend who really listened and followed through with what they heard? We all have the capacity to do this, and do this well. In the business world and numerous other industries, it is imperative to our success we become skilled listeners. Although it may seem like an easy thing to do, listening and doing it well takes practice and dedication. We live in a world of constant distraction, and endless interruptions, so having focused conversations can be challenging. However, being focused during your conversation is imperative, and when you are, the end results can be as rewarding as the story about my friend and the stranger he gave the goalie hockey equipment to.
One trick I utilize when I am listening to people is to take notes. It is not always possible to do this, but when I can do it, being able to refer back to my notes from the conversation is remarkable, as it allows me to think through what was being said from a different dimension, and most times to come up with a better outcome or result from the conversation. Most business or conversations in general are a way to convey information, and often a way to figure out a solution to either a problem or a challenge the person is having. All of us have the ability to solve challenges, and we can solve them much better if we are actively engaged in the conversation. So, the next time you are in a conversation, take a moment to consider whether you are fully listening. If you are not, refocus your attention and know that when you do this, each party in the conversation will significantly benefit from the engagement.
This article is dedicated to Doug Kennedy.
Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.