To Listen or Not To Listen……..That’s the Question

Have you ever offered to help someone with something they had just complained about and had them completely miss the offer? I really know better than to “coach” on the fly, but when a choice opportunity came my way last week I couldn’t help myself even knowing beforehand what the outcome would be.

Gary M. Jordon, Ph.D.

Gary M. Jordon, Ph.D.

My wife and I were in the process of buying her new car, and the salesman was literally young enough to be my son. The difference in our ages was 36 years. Before the test drive he established that my wife wanted dark grey, but I really liked the deep blue. When I answered 36 years to his make conversation question about how long we had been together, his comment was, “Wow, I can’t stay with a woman for even 36 hours!”

Unbeknownst to the young man my wife had admitted to me that the deep blue was very pretty, and as we finished the test drive I asked him if they had one in that color.

“I thought she didn’t like the blue”, he said.

“She changed her mind”, I replied.

“Ah, you convinced her to change her mind,” he said.

Here was my opening, a chance to point out to him one of the reasons why he can’t stay with a woman for even 36 hours. Not my place, I know, but I dove in any way.

“No, after 36 years you learn that you never try to convince, you discover what they want and then you help them make it happen.”

“Ah, subtle but patient manipulation,” he countered.

“No, you help them make it happen. You can offer options for them to consider, tell them what you think, but the decision is theirs,” I said with genuine sincerity.

“I see. You wear them down over time,” he said walking back towards the building.

Sometimes you get moments of grace when a connection with another human being feels brilliant. Sometimes you get a lot less than that.  This was one of those. I chuckled, shook my head and thought “what a great example of someone who will have a hard time with any relationship until he learns how to listen.”  I’m guessing that his sales success will also suffer.

The bottom line is that our salesman had already decided the answer because he was focused on his own agenda.  Not a great sales technique.

Have you ever experienced being on the receiving end of someone who wasn’t listening to you?  What was your reaction?

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