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Two Ears, One Mouth

By Tim Kolacz

Do you ever wish people would shut up so that you can start talking? You are hearing them talk and you are formulating your response to them and then you argue the same point that they just mentioned while you were thinking and not listening? You have, and most likely you’ve done it recently; this morning, perhaps.

I was out with a networking colleague the other day at a coffee house and we were discussing all kinds of things and one of them was how many times it took the order taker to understand what I was ordering. I went in for a tea and this particular place has a long drawn out name for an Arnold Palmer. It’s something like White Tea Citrus Alligator Infusion Concoction and it’s not easily read from their menu. So, as I am trying to order this thing, the order taker says “Yeah, we have that. It’s Passion Mango Upside Down Double Rubble Infusion”. I say, “OK, but I don’t want Passion; I hate that stuff. Does it come in white tea?” The OT then says “What size?” Being a visual person, I hold out my hands, separate them and show him about what size.

He then says, “Sure, large. Great, one large Passion Alligator Mango Concoction.” I look at him and say “Sounds fine, but I don’t want Passion anything. I still hate that stuff and I don’t want it.” OT then says “$4.50”. I am still looking at him at this point as he clearly wants to take the next order, which no one is behind me at this point, so I am not sure who he will help next. I then say “So, what, exactly, is this drink called that I am having?” he says “Passion Tango Tea Lemonade! You’ll enjoy it”

Once more, and fortunately for me there was a coworker of his behind him, I say “I hate Passion and I don’t want it. Do you have White Tea?” OT, “Why yes we do, you could have said that earlier.”

So as I am talking with my colleague, Alicia, we begin to discuss why it’s so hard for us to listen to someone else speak and for us to actually really listen to what they are saying. We had an incredible conversation and went back and forth, and as we did so, we discussed and asked deeper questions about each other and our businesses. We understood what we were talking about, we had a far better knowledge base of how our businesses worked and then we were able to make plans for the next time we met and how we can each be prepared for that meeting ahead of time.

It’s very hard to listen; it’s even harder to listen and understand. The hardest part though is keeping your mouth shut 66% of time and only open your mouth 34% of the time. Great leaders do this; I’m not great yet, but I’m trying.

Now, your turn. I’m listening.


Tim Kolacz

I want to wish you a happy holiday season. Remember, one not five; beer not liquor. Get home safe from the holiday party so that you can listen to more people next year. 951-779-8730

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