The art of listening –
one need a lot more than just ears
Only fully absorbed listening allows a deep understanding
“When customers tell their stories about their experiences, or even simply explain their opinion on a certain topic they tell a lot more than they think. They embed it in a rich context which in turn enables us to experience more from their lifeworld, their decision drivers or even themselves as persons. All you need is an open heart and the ability to really listen.”
Dr. Michael Schindl
Because we speak and chat to other people on a daily basis, we take the listening part of it for granted and consider it to be an easy part of it. Therefore, almost all people think that they are good listeners, but unfortunately this is not the case.
Neuroscientists from Harvard University have shown in studies that, when people do not actively withdraw, they attempt to dominate every conversation. Talking about one’s own topics is a fundamental and distinctive urge. Here, listening and showing interest only play a secondary role. This can also be stated for classical interviewing, because in this situation we also try to dominate the conversation with standardised questions, which we allegedly need.
On the other hand, listening initially requires an active willingness, an appropriate attitude and lots of practice. So it’s all about the correct attitude, the correct technique which decides one’s ability to be a good and active listener.
This means that only carefully selected and experienced listeners are suitable for STORYlistening®, because the lifeworld of customers (b2c as well as b2b) is becoming more and more complex. And because of this, for example, the explanation-, utilisation-, or assessment coherences of the customers are also becoming more complex. To comprehend and expose this during a conversation is an art, that requires many years of experience.
If someone listens in this way, it is much easier to speak more openly about the things that are really important to us, what experiences we have had or what the relevancy is. In this way we tell a lot more, with greater fluency and more often complete stories, to ensure that the listener understands the point of it. In this way the context is given in a purely natural way, which is of upmost importance in order to deeply understand the foreign lifeworlds.
Besides that, it is very important for valuable results, that the listener possesses a comprehensive understanding of the strategy, business process and business model. Only then he/she is able to judge quickly, which topics and aspects have special strategic relevance and would be worth delving into deeper.
This combination of active listening AND strategic understanding is the secret of STORYlistening® which has evolved over the last 20 years and, because of this, can uncover coherences that remain hidden during classic market research.
STORYlistening® is therefore the instrument of choice when confronted with preparing decisions of strategic importance.
Why listening is smarter than asking
“How can we learn from people and really understand what drives them when we mainly ask questions that are only of interest for us?”
Dr. Olaf Rughase