I had a very trying week, and yet I’m glad it was. The problems that arose helped teach me that I still have some work to do on my listening skills. I’m betting that you might too, so I’m sharing. Building and selling software for the most part is pretty rewarding. Everyday the team at my company interacts with clients who use our tools to be more productive. The goal is to maximize the technology so folks can either make more money or save time. So it’s really rewarding for us. Now that doesn’t mean that it’s always a ball of fun anymore than your work is, but for the most part what we do is really rewarding. And when things get troubling or difficult, I try to step back and find the cause. Not always easy. And while I hate to admit it, problems arise most often because of poor communication. Communication can be internal or customer facing, it doesn’t matter, the outcome is the same – someone’s upset or at minimum, not delighted.
I didn’t tell you anything new did I? Communication has always been hard and it’s getting harder because printed words – emails and texts, aren’t very conveying. Come on, can you really tell my mood right now? Of course not. So I’ve laid out a problem or issue. So how do we make progress towards something different? How do we improve communication? Simplistically we know the answer. Listen more and speak less. Easy to say. Hard to do. I have an idea. How about we all act like 3 or 4-year olds and ask question, after question, after question? That way we put ourselves in a position where we can actually spend more time listening and less time talking. And guess what? It’s almost impossible to ask questions via email. It’s too tedious – all that Send/Receive, Send/Receive, Send/Receive!
Here’s the catch. You have to really be curious and want to know the answers. You have to really want to hear the other person’s answer or point of view. You can’t be contrite. And while you may be reading this thinking that I’m talking about the people we work and interact with frequently, it’s just as valuable or even most valuable to have conversations with your customers. The satisfied ones are full of advice and knowledge they can share and the unhappy ones can give you direction.
Today I often hear that people don’t want to call or stop in to see someone, because they feel they are being intrusive. A “pre-email” or text is thought of as polite; maybe. But if what you want to learn holds value for all parties, I find a call or in-person meeting is welcome. Problem is people on the calling side are many times acting in a self-serving way. Bad, very bad. I talk to a lot of people about communication and connections. I’ve learned so much. It takes a lot of practice. It isn’t always easy for sure. I’m convinced we can do better. We can be “connected” AND benefit from the amazing tools we have to share and connect. Remember the ice bucket challenge? How about we come up with a challenge for people to listen more than they speak? I have no idea what that might look like as a “game” or “challenge,” and I’m hoping all you smart folks might. I ask you. Am I off base? Is communication just fine? I’m anxious to listen. You can even call me if you like. 813-349-5640. Oh my! How novel.