• Lindsay

I Love To Listen

For anyone that knows me well, they would never say I’m a quiet person. Communication is literally how I make my living, and I never have nothing to say. But when people first meet me they always assume I’m shy and quiet. It’s not because I’m nervous in the company of new people. It’s because I believe in the power of listening.


No one has ever actually shared with me how to listen or the secrets of listening. I’ve recently seen stats that say 50% of good communication is about listening, but this wasn’t what made me realise this myself.


Whilst I can’t pinpoint the moment that I did realise this for myself, I would suspect it comes from my training in writing. Yes, writing. I have a degree in Writing & Media, and I specialised in Screenwriting. So that means I spent most of my time learning the art of dialogue.


One lecture more than any sticks out to me while I was doing my degree. Our lecturer said to us: “If you want to master dialogue, then you have to realise that people never say what they really mean.”


This was groundbreaking to me. Could this possibly be true? Are we all lying all the time? What does this mean? This stuck with me so much, I had to see for myself how this worked in real life.


It turns out, people speak in incredibly complex ways. This could be as simple as them telling you what they think you want to hear. Or on the flipside, telling you the only things they will allow you to know. So often in networking meetings, when you ask someone how business is going, they’ll tell you straight away how great it is. Very few people say anything negative. They want you to believe it’s all going well. You’re never going to know the actual truth.


It’s the same if you ask someone how they’re doing today. More often than not, they’ll say good or really well. They won’t tell you their ailments, and you’ll probably be annoyed if they do. You weren’t asking because you really wanted to know the ins and outs of how life was progressing for this individual. You were probably just being polite.


Through all of this, no one has said what they really mean.


But listening changes all of that.


If you want to know what someone is actually thinking or feeling, listen to what they say. And I mean really listen. Pick up on the tone of their voice and the actual words they select. Vague language and a light voice could often mean they’re not being real. They’re brushing it away. I’m no expert in body language or tone, but after a while you start to see patterns.


Repetition is also quite revealing. If someone says something a few times, whether they mean to or not, you immediately know it’s important to them. If it’s a potential client, that could be very valuable information.


Whilst you learn a great deal in terms of factual information when you listen to people, such as what work they do, who they work for, what training they’ve had etc, if you listen long and hard enough, you’ll get to read between the lines, and that’s incredibly revealing.


One of the first things I always do with any new client is have a chat with them. I ask them a load of questions and I try to get to know them and their business. This isn’t just to gather factual information. This is where I really listen. I’ll barely say a word during this time. I just let people talk. This gives me so much insight into what really matters to them. I’ll learn about what problems they’re facing, what their personality is like, what they’re passionate about and what irritates them. They might not say all this to me, but their tone, their repetition and the way the talk will reveal so much more than just the general facts they are giving you.


I frequently get told how amazing I am that I can get to the heart of problems very quickly. It’s not amazing, though. Anyone can do it. All you have to do is listen. I love it!


If you’d like to know more about the art of dialogue, I wrote a blog on my author website. Do take a look.

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