listening tips

Recently, I’ve seen several recommendations for David Baeza‘s post,  “10 Tips for Effective Social Listening”. The post is a good concise explanation of how to establish and maintain rapport and credibility on Twitter, though it left me wanting more.

I expected less discussion of tools and more discussion of what it takes to excel at listening. I think we each need to remind ourselves regularly what it takes to be an effective listener, independent of technology. Hopefully, this post will accomplish that task.

By the way, Baeza’s post wasn’t devoid of good listening advice at all. He included great advice from Glenn Dobson, which I’ll summarize, ‘Be genuine, responsive, appropriate, and respectful.’

What I want to explore is what lies at the heart of Glenn’s advice, “Care.”

It’s an overly simple concept that eludes many of us. We get so caught up in the results we want from communication that we forget to appropriately value our audience.

We want them to buy something. Or we want them to tell us what to build. Or we want them to stop complaining.  We come to see them as problems to solve. We see them as objects, variables in an optimization formula.

We forget why they would want to buy our something. What problem of theirs is it solving? We forget that we’re building the next thing to meet their needs instead of building it to sell them something. We forget that we’re responding to their complaints because we care about their experiences, not because we want to shut them up.

It’s wrong to engage an audience with any motivation other than caring, and doing so will provide wrong results.

If you approach communication with empathy, you will be a good listener. If you care about your audience enough to want to understand them, you will need to actively listen to them. And, when you’re listening, be genuine, responsive, appropriate, and respectful.

It will make a difference.

Thank you.

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