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Teach your team to shut up and listen

Musings from a Co-CEO ///

If you’re like me, you used to walk into client meetings heck bent on one thing: talking.

And why not? You’re the hired, experienced, trusted researcher. So you talked. You talked about your product. You talked about your quality. You talked about your competitor’s product and quality. You even crafted your questions to illicit more information so that you could keep talking.

It’s talking, we thought, that made us Experts. Sherpas. The Ones With All the Answers.

And then we learned better.

We now know the real experts in this business close their mouths, open their ears and let their clients give them the good stuff. Because clients know their own targets better than we ever will. Discounting this level of deep, intimate knowledge means missing out on a wealth of insights that can fuel a more cost- and time-effective experience for everyone.

Assuming we’re in agreement, the next question is: How do we teach our team how to become better, active listeners? Start by simply pointing it out. Make the time, either before a meeting (most effective) or immediately after (also effective), to highlight examples of how solid listening skills can translate into even better profits. Use your own mistakes…err, experiences…to help your team visualize the benefit of silence.

At remind your mentees that, at the end of the day, client relationships are the same as any other: Everyone just wants to be heard.  So toss aside your ego and feel free to trust everyone in the room. Because when we effectively marry what our clients dish out with what we bring to the table, the result is some seriously solid work.

And all we have to do to get there is shut up and listen.