Listen to understand, not to respond

A former colleague and I were once invited to an African lunch in aclient’s house. My colleague (and good mentor and friend) is the geeky, cerebral, number-crunching type, and at mixers and socials you would not expect him to be “out there.”

This lunch was our _first casual get-together with a new client, so were trying to build rapport and warm things up. My colleague is naturally silent, and this client was relatively when she hosted us for the _rst time. There had been a number of silent pauses, and I, being the loudest among the three, took the role of filling up dead air with questions, follow-up questions, reactions, corny jokes – anything to keep the conversation in full swing.

After that African lunch, I got tired. I felt like I was the overworked volleyball player, and my colleague, happy at dealing with the ball only when it was about to hit him. A week after, my colleague told me this client was inviting us to lunch again, no longer African, and this time, to sign a partnership with us.

“Wow, that was fast! How is this possible?” I asked.

“While at the African lunch, she had brie_y talked about some of her affiliations. I took them as an opportunity to close the deal.”

I was dumbfounded. My silent, geeky colleague saved me yet again by listening closely. I was reminded of him last week

when Bro. Alan shared this: “Many times, we listen to respond. But we should listen to understand.”


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