Consumers, Customers, Coworkers and Clients: What’d They Say?

Did you have a meeting today? A telephone conversation? A hallway chat? If this is your life, your chance to win lies in being a great listener. A skill, a talent; regardless of what you call it, embracing these Six Secrets to Stellar Listening will make every interaction a more powerful one.


  • Embrace the fact that listening makes the speaker feel worthy. That’s pretty powerful­–you may be able to elevate your client’s feeling of self-worth in that moment
  • Tune in to the emotion beyond the words. “I need your input on this project” could really mean, “Boss, I’m scared out of my wits.”
  • Empathy first, solution second. People need their emotions validated. If you jump to solutions first, the speaker may reject your suggestions out of hand. This is particularly important when projects or negotiations or relationships are going south.
  • Shush your “out-thinking.” That’s the thinking that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand, e.g., “I gotta get a hair cut.” or “I wonder if the train is on time?” Once you become aware of it, you’ll be shocked how often it arises, especially when you disagree with the information being shared.
  • Avoid predicting the future by silently finishing the other person’s thought. “I was wondering if you could…” has as much chance of resulting in “loan me your pen” as it does “take 30 percent off this big order.”
  • Curb your bias. Take in all the information without judgment before speaking. Thinking, “well, that was a stupid thing to do,” isn’t going to help further the conversation (even if it was indeed a stupid thing to do). Have you ever made fun of a consumer when watching a focus group? “Hahaha, they didn’t know that was recyclable,” could be an indicator that your bias-demon is rising.

So think about it. And let us know what secrets, traps and tips you’ve seen over the years. We’re happy to listen!