I’ll start this blog with a story that relates to the last blog I posted, in which I stated that:
- Learning to listen and discover the other person’s “why” for doing what they do is significant because
- With this information, you can align your “why” with their “why”. Then the real interaction and mutual benefit can take place.
I did this when I was living in Singapore. I had received a call from the assistant of a very high-ranking government official: I was being considered as a public speaking coach for this gentleman; might we be able to discuss this project soon? He would like to visit me in my home.
Eeek. I also discovered that this official was involved in government security; when I told my friends who this person was, they freaked out. “You do realize you are being observed right now,” they said, “and ALL your records are being gone over with a fine-tooth comb.” They then ran away so they wouldn’t be seen in public with me.
Well. I sighed, cleaned my apartment and waited for the meeting. At exactly the appointed time, a black limo glided into view and there was a knock on my door.
A very mild-looking, trim man came in. He was modest in demeanour and soft-spoken—not a scary individual at all. He quickly glanced around the apartment and made a small nod—of approval, I thought. I invited him to sit and offered him tea, which he politely declined.
So what happened? Did he ask me piercing questions about my past, trying to sniff out any infractions I might have committed? Absolutely not. We spoke about Singapore history, the effectiveness of many of its policies, the social problems the country still faced and possible solutions. We did not discuss any business interaction, and I did not rush in to reassure him that I could be a fabulous coach. At the end of the interview he smiled, shook my hand and said, “We’ll be in touch.”
Within a few hours, I had this man as a client.
#1 (of course), my apartment was pristinely clean—reflecting the respect due an honoured guest
#2, I demonstrated to him that, though I was an outsider living in Singapore, I was an interested outsider. I knew key things about its history, I spoke with sincere admiration about many of the island’s accomplishments and yet also demonstrated I was not blind to some of the social problems its citizens faced.
#3, I listened carefully to what he said, asked him to clarify some of the things he mentioned, and made it clear that I was honoured to learn from him.
Basically, I let this individual know that I appreciated living in Singapore and was committed to living there and understanding as much about it as I could. I cared about the country and communicated my concern and interest.
This government official and I shared this interest. That was enough for him; I got the job.
In the next blog, I’ll discuss how I used active listening to draw the person out. I’ll examine the bits of that conversation and what made me get the gig.
I’m owner of the Melbourne-based company Eloquent English, and I can help you find YOUR story: in a CV, a job interview, a website, annual report or a presentation.
“It’s your story. Get it right.”