Usually, I write about what I know.
But here, I’m as guilty as every other blogger in trying to ‘predict’ how the dark Covid cloud will change business. I mean, how can you speculate about the impact of something that’s unprecedented – and not nearly over?
I have noticed, though, that global circumstances have affected my writing and listening habits lately. Which, ironically, leads me to further speculation.
I’ve been writing less, and listening more.
Writing less, because by the time I get to the end of a post, the beginning can already seem outdated or off-key. That’s how fast our thinking is changing these days.
Listening more because, well, I’m curious how everyone else is processing current events. And, truth be told, what their plans, speculations and feelings are regarding the future.
After all, what is reality but the sum total of everyone’s point-of-view?
The gift of knowing when to shut up.
The overwhelming uncertainties these days, and human sorrows that suddenly increase in orders of magnitude, may just offer a lesson in, let’s call it intellectual humility.
Maybe being a little less sure of ourselves isn’t a bad thing. Yes, we’ve all had time to accumulate professional knowledge and approaches. But the jarring context of world-changing events has put many of our underlying assumptions on the ropes.
Like animals in the wild who sense they’re under threat, we instinctively stop, and listen, and listen some more, before we make any move at all.
Most people, by nature, are helpers. Businesspeople too.
But in truth, a lot of companies promote their own standard solutions, despite customers’ unique stories. Sellers are trained to overcome customer objections, often without actually addressing them.
Doctors, for all their skill at interpreting lab values and x-rays, often miss important clues because they listen to patient complaints with only half an ear.
Speaking from current experience though, it’s harder to be a self-appointed know-it-all. I find myself more curious now about the thoughts and feelings of others. It’s a kinship thing, I guess, like the unique bond among a table of veterans swapping war stories in the back of the bar.
As Covid flattens the business playing field, the best listeners may have the advantage.
Across the landscape of media options, we’re all tuned into the national conversation more than ever before. And, overall, we’re spending more time at it before contributing ideas or insights of our own.
I hereby predict (okay, stop laughing) that whenever we get back to whatever normal will look like, we will all have learned to be better listeners. Will that make us make us more empathetic and effective players in our personal and business relationships? What do you think?
Speak only when you feel you can improve upon the silence.
I’ve always been inspired by that advice from some wise sage, though up until now, my own track record has been admittedly spotty.
Going forward, though, I’m going to try to focus more on what others are saying, rather than on what I want to say next. In the midst of, and in the wake of, a global bone-shaking trauma, that simply feels like the right way to interact with my fellow survivors.
We never know what we’ll learn by being more open.
That includes listening closer to clients, vendors, and org-chart underlings who lack our “professional experience.”
At that table in the back, the stories of former enlisted privates are given the same attention as those of decorated colonels. In the end, a common enemy gave them a common purpose, an engaged empathy, and an appreciation for each other’s contribution.
It’s a pity we had to suffer the deadly dark cloud to learn this overdue lesson. But that’s apparently how silver linings work.
How might your company achieve better messaging though better listening? Get in touch to schedule a Free one-hour Think It Through session.
Happy to help, with no obligation whatsoever. I’ll also throw in a PDF list of custom recommendations if you subscribe to my blog offering additional post-Covid business ideas and insights.
About the Author: Tom Tortorici is an Atlanta copywriter and web content writer who helps companies make a genuine connection with their audience. His classes and conference presentations have focused on how writing, strategy and design can work together to grab attention and interest even among readers with short attention spans. In addition to working directly with businesses, Tom regularly partners with web designers and marketing agencies.
Tom Tortorici Inc. | Tom@TomTortorici.com | 770-934-7861 | 3101 Rockaway Rd | Atlanta GA 30341