When you finally get the ear of someone you’ve been wanting to talk to, I’ve found that you should spend as much time, if not more, listening instead of talking. Perhaps that sounds a bit odd, given I said that you were waiting to get the ear of that someone.
Chances are you probably want to convince them about something. It could be you want to sell something to them, or even convince them about the benefits of some service/offering. You might want to persuade them to do something for you. In short, you want something from them, don’t you?
But I find that when you finally get that opportunity, you can easily blow it by not paying attention.
How? Convincing takes more than talking – you have to spend time listening. It really seems like the most productive, most efficient way to proceed. The reason is simple to understand: when you spend time listening, you are actually actively ensuring that what you have to say, will be heard, understood and thereby, accepted.
The reason for this is because messages are most effective, not when it is simply relayed as is but when it is tailored to the recipient. Yes, when you take the time to understand and profile who you are talking to, understand what is important to them, what their pain points are, how they view certain issues and crucially, how they are likely to respond in a given situation, you can factor that into whatever you have to say. In that way, you will be listened to, which is a little different to simply hearing. When the person you talk to listens to you, then you increase the chances that you will be understood. They are receptive to your message. They will therefore seek to clarify, to check, to argue and therefore, be open to your point of view. And when they listen, and then understand, they may accept. Acceptance is not a given but then, we do know that.
However, easy as this is to comprehend, the reality is that oftentimes, we are in a rush. And in that rush, we sometimes mistakenly believe that we have the platform. But this is never something we should assume. The platform has to be earned. And it takes effort and time to lay the groundwork, to ensure that you have primed your listener.
Some may feel justified to proceed in the way they know best which may not necessarily be the right way. Some may feel that just talking will do the trick, regardless of whether the message is actually heard, let alone accepted.
But the hard work you put in to lay a solid foundation, in the early days, as in many situations, will hold you in good stead over time.