The joy of listening

One of the best things about listening is the pleasure it brings – both to the person being listened to, and to the listener.

There’s a real joy for me in eliciting new information: information that my interviewee didn’t know they knew.  People are absolutely fascinating, once you get beyond the everyday conversational niceties and discussions about the weather.

Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations, puts it well:”When I worked for a search firm, someone asked me how I could bear to interview people all day. It was as if this person felt that interviews with job candidates couldn’t be interesting, that somehow they must be all alike. The question astounded me. I almost always lost myself in those interviews.”

Susan goes on to describe her experience of a ‘typical’ candidate. “He is a delightful human being who raises basil as a hobby, makes incredible pesto. I don’t remember what colour his eyes are, but I do know that he has an eye for detail, incredible organizational skills, and a wonderfully wry sense of humour. I think he’d be successful with several of our clients.”

If you’re ever bored when you’re interviewing someone, it’s time to upgrade your questioning and listening skills!

And then there’s the joy of the listenee. Most people are delighted to have someone’s undivided attention, whatever they’re being asked to talk about. If their attention is being drawn to their own thoughts, feelings and opinions, their own hopes and dreams, their own intentions and ideas, and their metaphors for these, the lights go on behind their eyes. That’s when time disappears and the magic starts to happen.

These enchanted moments would make the conversation worthwhile, even if it didn’t have another purpose. But it can have all kinds of practical value, too. For example, in a recent conversation my client reconnected with the true purpose of his business, with core aspects of his identity, with his ‘calling’. He loved it – and me. And as a result of the conversation, my notebook contained the raw materials for me to bring his website and brochure copy to life.

Whoever knew that marketing could be so much fun? 🙂

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