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Inbound Listening: The Art Of Letting Your Customers Speak More And Be Spoken At Less

By Hamish Litt • August 31, 2018
Humans are very good at getting distracted, jumping to conclusions and not paying attention, and this can be very detrimental in the workplace. However, practicing the art of listening can help to get through some of these hurdles, and create better outcomes for you and your clients.


Have you ever had that feeling of frustration when dealing with clients, when seemingly contradictory feedback comes through after hours of work on a project? Or have you ever had that feeling that the message you’re trying to communicate is just not getting across, almost as if you’re talking about completely different things?

Overcome Workplace Distractions 

Throughout every second of our lives, there are hundreds of thousands of stimuli we have to forage through, determining what’s most important to us, and what’s not. All the bits of visual information, random noises, strange smells… all of these, implicitly or explicitly, affect our thoughts, and sometimes make it hard to focus on one thing at a time.

In addition, the modern workplace is increasingly tech-driven, where emails abound, texts frequently break our concentration, and we are often expected to handle several tasks all at once. 

It’s a tough gig for the brain.

The result is that our thoughts jump around, and it can be hard to focus on just one thing at a time. Instead, we rely on heuristics and mental shortcuts in place of sustained, focused attention: world-renowned psychologist Daniel Kahneman labels this type of thought our automatic, ‘System 1’ processing.

Our stream of consciousness is a string of seemingly unrelated ideas which are brain is just trying to make sense of, and that can make it hard to use our brain effectively when we need it most.

Insight From Psychology That Can Help

When communicating with clients, this is no different, and unfortunately, distractions interfere. This can lead to omissions of crucial information to the projects being worked on, or inaccurate assumptions. As a result, tasks might go ahead with two different understandings of what is being addressed. Only down the track might these things be picked up on, which means unnecessary time spent, and potentially a lot of frustration.

Luckily, psychology lends us a helpful insight: that listening is one of the most underrated skills we have. Ever had that feeling of venting to a friend about stuff you didn’t even know you cared about? This is what happens when we get a platform to properly air our thoughts, and it’s not something that comes about very often. Chances are you were incredibly grateful to them, for finally being allowed to get it off your chest.

A similar lack of such platforms is evident at work. People don’t often get a chance to tell their whole story, or don’t communicate exactly what they want or need from a transaction. Allowing them to speak, uninterrupted, particularly during initial meetings, will allow the necessary pieces of information to naturally rise to the surface. You will probably then notice recurring ideas crop up, or themes, or tones towards particular subject matters. Those things, once the narrative has been finished, are what should be addressed.

Put The Customer First

The world of inbound marketing is built on the premise that customers should speak more, and be spoken at less. Learning how to listen can help to create positive change in your workplace, leading to more efficient, meaningful and long-lasting outcomes for both you and your clients. Listening is the first step in truly connecting with people, and at Connect Labs, that’s what we’re all about.