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Why are you insisting on not listening?

I think it has to do with distance.

The distance that is created in the void where we should have had patience and respect and time.

That art is not about “everything to everyone at once”. That’s just naive thinking. Asking, telling and insisting that people listen? And when they don’t, blaming them? Really? “We are the experts, we can reach everyone with everything”. No. It doesn’t work like that. Not even statisticians believe in that process.

What if communication is not about informing about everything, appealing, begging or threatening to be left behind, pointing to the amount of evidence and all the experts’ beliefs and opinions? What if they just don’t care? Shouldn’t you want to know what people care about? How can you ever expect me to connect with you when your opinions are clearly more important to you than any insight about me?

Communication is listening, conversation and dialogue. Common sense. But common sense is not very common for a good reason, sense is communicated differently through different cultures, languages, subcultures and generations.

Listening is not for everyone. Active listening is demanding. Skills are needed, in filtering out prejudices and assumptions, it requires that you listen with your heart and not with your ears, it requires that you fully understand that sight is not the only sense amongst our five senses that sees, and there is no room for ego if you are to be a successful active listener. When you listen, when you truly listen, you start seeing inner images, and you start seeing the emotions behind an answer. And you will start seeing what has caused those emotions. And it’s a powerful thing, truly seeing someone. Not merely looking, but seeing. Now imagine seeing millions of people. Their dreams and hurts. Their needs and anger.

In my work I deal with many CEOs, entrepreneurs and product managers. And I have seen how wrong it can get when the idea of not doing wrong governs more than the idea of doing right.

I have sat in conference rooms, witnessing grown men sweating. They have spent millions of euros on advertising and marketing support, trying to leverage their brand. But the results are lesser than what they had promised management. Worse, the result is lesser than they had promised themselves. The executive in charge is trying to make sense of it all: “where did we go wrong, why don’t they listen to us? What happened?”

The meetings go on, somewhat convoluted and abandoned, someone will always talk about product innovation, another one will always bring up customer affinity programs, relationship marketing sounds good, and customer intimacy will be discussed. Without a single customer, or non customer, present. And so the loop continues.

How can we ever do right when we are constantly afraid of doing wrong? When we blame time for not being enough. Why don’t we just ask the ones that don’t seem to care about us, why they don’t care?

Because listening is not for everyone. It’s a demanding internal work. It’s an upfront scary business. Because it means that honest answers will come your way. And if you are not ready or recipetant for honest answers, your game time will be limited.

Where I’m from, from within the subculture that has helped shape my common sense, if we can’t connect to our listener, there are two options: walking away, or becoming a better listener ourselves. No one will listen to you if you don’t listen to them.