Listen Up!

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I’m on a trip to New Orleans and if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked “How can I help you?” I could have paid much less for the trip. From the airline check-in desk to the taxi driver to the hotel and on down the line, it seems fashionable to ask me, the consumer, how I can be helped (note to politicians: you might ask me every once in a while too). And while the asking of the question is extremely important, the next step is pivotal: listen to the answer (politicians: you too!).

So, in the interest of everyone I will encounter here in New Orleans (not to mention the completely self serving aspect of this), here are five (5) good reason why you should listen after you ask me “How can I help you?”

1. It’s polite.
2. By listening to my answer, you validate me. Maybe I feel like I really AM important to you and you really do want to help me.
3. You might learn something (about me, my needs, my wants, your business).
4. You strengthen our relationship.
5. You may actually discover how you can help me.

Listening is an active, not passive thing. We are better listeners when we are paying attention to the whole person not just their mouth. Body language, eye contact and facial expression speak volumes that the ears do not hear. It helps to be in the moment with the person who is speaking. Forget about your phone, that text or your next facebook posting. Focus on the person speaking. Listen with the intent to understand, don’t listen with the intent to figure out what it is you are going to say next.

These simple things will make my stay in the Big Easy much better AND who knows, might help you too!