It was Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) who said, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply."
And it is true, especially in these times of 140-character Twitter debates and clapbacks and "owning" people. The vast majority of humans are not listening well when they hear others talk. They are simply thinking about what they are going to say in return. And in business or sales meetings, we are often so eager to move to the next slide in our PowerPoint, or make that killer close, that we completely ignore important information our clients are giving us that could help us help them.
At Starling Consulting, we want to create a different approach, which is why one of our core values is Communication: Internally and externally, we listen to understand and we speak with clarity.
First, we listen to understand in our conversations—we truly focus on what others are saying, both in words and actions, and we don't respond unless we feel we actually understand what they are trying to say. If we don't, we keep asking questions until we do. Too many consulting firms simply throw solutions at people without actually understanding the root cause of the problem. We are interested in solving the root cause, not just applying band-aids over a sucking chest wound because we happen to sell band-aids.
Second, we speak with clarity. That means we think before we speak (whether that is out loud or in writing), and we make sure that the message we are sending is the message we actually want to send. We double-check ourselves, and we make sure that we aren't using 10 words when one will do. It is our responsibility to deliver a message that is clear, purposeful and concise. We are not interested in talking just to hear our own voices.
Put together, these two halves make up a powerful core value that is other-focused, and helps us accomplish the goals we've set out for ourselves, and the goals our customers have.