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Are you listening?




Did someone ask you that once? And your answer would be “I am listening!” But are you actually? No, you’re not. You’re thinking of what to reply, that’s what you’re doing. So, how do you listen?

Well facts show that most of us retain just 25% of what we hear. We talk more than we hear. Even though we have 2 ears and only one mouth. Most of the time we think we can get others to agree with what we say if we talk more to them. Like the police interrogator making the criminal admit his guilt. We watch videos of police doing that. Yes, police interrogators are experts to a certain extent having gone through courses on how to get information from the criminal. But what about getting information from a terrorist. That would be more difficult as the terrorist would have been trained on how to deal with interrogation. An interview with a former chief interrogator of the FBI said that he used a different technique.

Before meeting the one he was to interrogate, he would spend some time to clear his mind by asking himself how he felt and encouraging himself about his health or the comfort of his clothes. Then he proceeded to interrogate the suspect without asking leading questions, but by simply giving his full attention, looking at the person right in the eyes, sitting straight with his hands resting on the armchair or the table. Most of the time the person gave the information he wanted. Without asking the question, the speaker connected and understood what the listener wanted and told him precisely what he needed. Can you believe that?

A conflict negotiator also said that by listening, you open the opportunity of the speaker listening to you. Imagine a country about to go to civil war. The president was about to get the military to arrest the opposition and they got this negotiator to resolve the conflict. What did the negotiator do? He let the president shout at him about the disagreement he had with the opposition until he calmed down and asked the negotiator for a suggestion. When the negotiator suggested to the president to have his country celebrate Christmas, there was a civil war during the last one; and then discuss with the opposition, the president followed his suggestion. There was peace in the country long after Christmas.

Then how does this apply to business? An interview with a successful businessman who makes millions every year said that he would meet the clients, spend a good amount of time understanding their problems and only make an offer if he understands that his product can solve his client’s problem. In fact, some of his clients wanted to buy his product before he could talk about it.

The stories are true by the way. From these incredible stories do you think listening is important? The world would be a happier place if we all just listened to each other.


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