The Difference Between Listening and Waiting to Speak

There is a lot of good that has come from social media – it connects us to our friends and loved ones who may live far away, and during COVID, it really helps us feel less alone. But, the challenge of social media in a highly polarized world is it makes us shout our beliefs and, perhaps worse, it results in misinterpretation of what others may be trying to say in their shouting back.

In business, we risk a similar challenge – one where we talk past each other and miss the value of discussion and the financial benefits that may come from listening. In Customer Advisory Board settings, we find that the more a vendor wants to sell their products and services, the further they get from engaging the customer in a sale. Recently, a customer said “you aren’t listening to me… I’m trying to help you understand my problem.”

There is a difference between listening and waiting to speak.

We need more dialogue and less shouting. More listening and less telling; more collaborative problem solving and less selling. In a world that is full of tension and polarization, we look to our work to bring us salvation, sanity, and a sense of working toward a shared set of goals. We need to enter discussions willing to take feedback, and willing to be curious.

I challenge myself and you to take your next client meeting with a student mindset. What can we learn, progress and improve? Let go of having the answers and being right, and discover how to problem solve by listening.


Customer Advisory Boards

Customer Advisory Boards are powerful engines of engagement, insight, and business transformation. Make the most of yours.

Meeting Facilitation: Virtual and In-Person Boards » Taking Your Customer Advisory Board Meetings Virtual »

Learn More »

Engagement Strategy

Like any good relationship, customer engagement is a long-term, reciprocal effort. When done well, meaningful engagement leads to better business results, faster.

Engage Your Customers to Help You Stop Pitching » Getting to a Customer Engagement Mindset »

Learn More »

Understanding the C-Suite

Building C-level programs that are meaningful and bring value to you as well as to your c-suite customers is challenging. Veiled sales pitches won’t win the day with this audience. Deliver what executives want: ideas, inspiration, innovation, influence.

Building a C-Suite Client Experience Strategy » Do you Know What Your Customers Value? »

Learn More »