Not long ago, one mid-afternoon I stopped into a Target store to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy. While neither the store nor the pharmacy counter were very busy that time of the day, I found myself waiting a bit longer than expected to get served for my pickup.
You see, when I reached the counter, there was only one other customer there–an older lady who had picked up her medication only moments before. She was clearly engaged in talking to the store clerk about some issues she was having–stresses brought on by family or health I guess. The clerk did not appear to be saying much; she was really allowing the customer to do some private venting of some sort. I did not see it very long (wanting to respect the lady’s privacy), but I do know that it lasted at least ten minutes.
When I rounded back and it appeared the customer was wrapping up, I went ahead and approached, making my presence as “next-in-line” more noticeable. When the previous customer moved on, I approached the counter and the clerk apologized for the delay–apparently she had noticed me approaching earlier.
“I’m so sorry if I kept you waiting,” she said.
“No problem,” I replied. “It sounded like she had a lot to share. Some people just need someone who will listen! Bless your heart for giving her a few minutes of your time.”
Just then it occurred to me the reality of that fact–that indeed there are so many people out there who are just desperate to be heard, validated and understood, if only for a few minutes.
Last week I was called to do a last-minute presentation (well, not really…I had it scheduled for a few weeks, but I only remembered it at the last minute!) at a business lunch meeting. It was only a ten-minute talk, so I kept it simple: “How to Listen in Three Steps,” which was adapted from material in my book Prospect & Flourish.
The message, which I had delivered countless times before, struck a chord with members of this group. All had acknowledged that they themselves often wish they were heard and understood more, and in turn also admitted to times when they could have done a better job listening to others. But all acknowledged that dire need to be heard, and to feel understood and validated.
This is one of the greatest gifts you can give another; indeed just as the store clerk did with the older lady at the pharmacy counter. As you seek to make new connections and find more prospects, what better approach can there be?
Everyone needs to be listened to and heard. Hone your listening skills; when someone reaches out and needs to share or vent, put your personal agenda aside and let them speak. It may be the best thing you will do that day.