When I first went into business for myself, I would spend hours and hours preparing for each client meeting. I remember walking into my top client’s office ready to knock his socks off with the vision I had planned for our session. He sat down, and threw me a curve ball.
A crisis had occurred within his company and he launched into talking about the challenges he was facing. I listened intently as he described the situation. Before I knew it I glanced at the clock and our time together was almost up. I was facing the daunting reality that the most meaningful feedback I had contributed to our meeting was mixed bag of simple verbal cues that let him know I was in this with him. I had done nothing to help him navigate the minefield of issues he was in the middle of. Only a few moments remained for me to come up with a recommendation that would show him I could add value to this conversation.
Just as I started to formulate a meaningful response, he pushed his chair away from the table with a look of relief on his face. I hid how puzzled I was that he was suddenly smiling. After a beat he said, “Abby that was the best meeting we’ve had yet. Thank you for listening. I can’t tell you how helpful this was."
He knew he had been seen. He knew he had been heard. And that is exactly what he wanted. He didn’t need me to solve his problem. He needed me to listen.
Over the course of my career I have realized good listeners are a rare commodity. If you want to be a true asset to your company, your network and you family... learn to listen. People can tell when you are present and when you are just waiting for your turn to talk.
Don’t be afraid of silence. It is only awkward if you make it awkward. Try this in the next conversation you find yourself in today: Stop and listen. Instead of formulating what you are going to say next while the person is talking…just listen. Trust that the right words will come to you if you let yourself be fully present to the moment. You will not only be surprised with the increased quality of what you hear…you will be impressed with the increased quality of what you have to say.