Learning to Listen

Learning to Listen

Over the past few weeks, I have been working with several clients on discovery sessions, custom proposal development, and negotiations. All are doing well, but almost all of them had to overcome a flaw. That flaw was listening.

As Bernard Baruch said, “Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” That is critical to understand. Whether we are the brand or the property, we need to listen more. We need to listen to both what is said and unsaid. We have to read between the lines. When a prospect tells us they want to want to be involved in the community and be recognized as such, we need to ask more questions to determine exactly what that means. Does it mean employee engagement where their employees volunteer? If so, is that in “hands on” work at an event, or in leadership roles on boards or committees? Or does it mean they want more branding and awareness associated with your property brand so people recognize their alignment? Unless we ask the right questions and listen to the answers, we won’t be able to build the right programs.

As Steven Covey wrote, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.” We need to move away from having all the answers to having all the questions. Let the prospect talk. Ask question after question. Down the road, there will be a time and a place for you to talk (your proposal presentation), but for now, learn to listen to learn! Don’t give solutions on the spot. Learn more, go back to the office, digest, brainstorm with the team, and then come up with solutions.

Doug Larson once said, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” I like that!

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