Listening to Engage is typical of what a salesperson would do and in today’s more emotionally connected world, we may even say that is what a bad salesperson does. They will listen until they hear a need that they can potentially fulfil and then literally pounce on you and direct your thoughts towards the product or solution they have for you. Now many would say that you should not waste time and the sale is important. Then the question must be asked, who is the sale important to? If the sale was only important to the salesperson and the company selling the product or service then we missed something.
People have a very basic need and that need is recognition. Many people will never be recognised for what they accomplish in life, and sadly some have even accepted that fact. However the recognition that they are looking for is a lot simpler and something that they will not easily accept if they do not receive it – that need is simply to be heard, cared for and loved.
Listening to Understand is often the only way of showing people they are special and that you care for them. But you are thinking ‘wow’, but what has this got to do with leadership, selling or what I do on a day-to-day basis? My answer is simply everything … If you are unable to connect with people to the point that they can trust you, they will not follow you as a leader or give you the opportunity to serve them as a leader (or as a salesperson for that matter). These are the basics of relationship and trust will only be sustainable in the safety of a relationship.
By listening to people so that we understand them, shows that we care and starts to build a relationship which sustains the trust. Somehow this does not seem obvious and we need to ask why would we want to go to so much effort to establish this trust? And our question would be totally valid.
I can only trust you if I know you have got my back!
If we don’t listen to understand we will never hear what the insecurities of others are and we will probably never understand our own insecurities either – yes we all have insecurities. It is our task to show people we care, not so that we can blatantly manipulate them into using our product or service, but rather by listening and trying to understand them where they are at. This is listening with empathy and we will understand what their insecurities are, what their real needs are and we will be able to tailor make solutions that suit them so that a win win situation arises for everybody.
Of course this is a challenge, but then who told us that life would be without challenges. The difference in this scenario is that we will actually be making a difference in the lives of others when we take up this challenge and not just make a difference to our material worlds.
Leadership is the ultimate challenge, because it is always about them and never about us.