Question: What prevents us from truly listening to our internal and external customers?
Answer: It is our emotions that prevent us from listening to and under standing another person.
All human emotions can be divided into just two categories: love and fear. The emotion of love may take the form of honesty, comfort, beauty, fulfillment, and many other forms of contentment. The emotion of fear may take the form of envy, hate, gluttony, despair, hopelessness, and all other forms of discomfort.
Our fears prevent us from listening to and understanding our customers (as well as everyone else in our lives). Sometimes we are fearful that the person won't buy from us, like us, recommend us, and so on: Our fear is so great that we become obsessed with making the other person understand our position. We are human beings and we want to be important too. But our emotions tell us we can't be important if the other person doesn't do what we want them to.
Detachment and defenselessness are our only solutions. Because we become focused on the outcome of every encounter and transaction, we feel we must continually defend our position. We believe the customer must see our viewpoint. The customer must understand us. If instead we enter every encounter with a detachment from the results, we become empowered to truly listen and understand our customer. Through this knowing and understanding we begin to relate to our customers as people instead of just a potential sale.
Defenselessness is your relinquishment of the need to persuade or convince others to your way of thinking. This may sound like an odd thing to do if you are trying to convince a customer to purchase your product. (Creating loyalty isn't about making a sale. Loyalty is an ongoing relationship with your customers.) In fact, defenselessness is actually a very powerful tool. Observe the people around you: You will see that people spend a substantial amount of time defending their thoughts, ideas, preferences, points of view, beliefs, and positions. (By substantial I mean 90 to 95 percent of their time is spent defending their point of view.)
Imagine how much intellectual energy we expend in being defensive. All of our mental powers are spent in attempting to answer any form of question or objection. We are so occupied with defending what we have to say that we forfeit the ability to hear and understand the people we are dealing with. Relinquishing our need to defend ourselves frees us to use our energy for listening and learning about our customers.
When we defend a position, we are telling the customer that our way is correct and that their way is wrong. In other words, we are telling them their ideas are wrong and are, therefore, not important.
People don't buy products because they do not have any objections; they buy the things they do because of a compelling reason to buy. Their purchase serves a purpose, is of value, or makes them feel good. Their objections are meaningless as long as there is a compelling reason to make the purchase. You can't convince someone to buy from you just by removing all the objections. Creating loyalty is dependent on the customer's feelings of importance. You will never demonstrate the customer's importance by proving you are right and they are wrong. Defending your position, whatever it is, is ultimately an attempt to prove yourself in the right and the customer in the wrong.
Defenselessness and detachment are tools of empowerment in demonstrating your customer's importance. Detachment from the outcome of your interactions with customers is liberating. Detachment liberates you from following a prescribed course that you believe will culminate in a sale. If you are attached to the outcome, you are attached to the process. This attachment does not allow you to explore, listen, and understand the customer.
Being detached from the outcome does not mean you have lost interest in your goal of doing business or creating loyalty because your goals and intentions remain the same. However, there are infinite possibilities between point A and point B. Your detachment frees you to see all possibilities and you are less likely to force solutions on problems.
Your detachment is a signal to your customers that your interest is in them and not just completing a transaction or closing a deal. When your customers see that you have a sincere interest in them, they are more open and revealing. This openness leads to your knowing and understanding them. As long as you are attached to the outcome of your endeavors you can never be open to all the possibilities that are available to you.
Defenselessness and detachment are merely mind-sets. We can develop these mind-sets through mental reminders. Before every meeting or encounter with your customers, relinquish your need to defend your point of view and remain open to all opinions and thoughts. Rather than focusing on a rigid agenda, you should participate in everything with a detached involvement. Your customers will feel at ease, recognize your appreciation of their importance, and reward you with their loyalty.
Your greatest tool in knowing, understanding, helping, and leading is listening. By asking your customers questions and then listening to their responses, you will learn about them and you will understand them. Asking questions and listening because you sincerely want to know the answer is at the heart of customer loyalty. Defenselessness and detachment are tools to empower your listening skills.
Harvey MacKay is a great storyteller and one of the best coaches in American business. Harvey tells the story of the dog, Ole Poon. Ole Poon sits by your side nearly asleep. When you pick up the newspaper or go to the refrigerator for a beer, Ole Poon never moves. As soon as you begin to consider taking Ole Poon out for a walk he miraculously knows your intentions and is standing by the door wagging his tail furiously. How did he know? MacKay points out that Ole Poon's only job is to watch you. He knows your moves better than you know yourself. You have all kinds of things to think about and consider, but Ole Poon only has you. While you are watching Ole Poon only 1 percent of the time, he watches you 99 percent the time. That's how he makes his living.
Ole Poon doesn't have much speaking ability, but he sure can watch and listen. Ole Poon is KUHL.