by Tom Ruwitch
Ihave a friend who drives me a little crazy.
He’s always happy to talk at me, tell me what’s going on in his life, share some insights, maybe even tell a joke.
But when it’s time for him to listen, here’s how it goes…
He asks me the kinds of questions that friends ask (“How are the kids?” or “What’s happening in your business?” or something like that). And as soon as I begin to answer…
...he tunes out.
If we’re in person, I can see it in his eyes. He’s lost focus. He’s not tracking. He glances at his phone.
If we’re on Zoom or the phone, I can tell because I hear him drop in a random “Uh huh…” at strange times. He’s not really listening. But he drops these verbal “I’m with you” cues. I think he’s not even conscious he’s doing it.
Then when I finish answering his question, there’s no engagement. No follow-up. He moves to the next topic -- usually more about himself…
...as if he’s saying, “Enough about you. Here’s more about me.”
Unsaid but often thought by me while “interacting” with this friend: “If you’re not going to listen to my answer, why did you ask the question?”
Do you have a friend (or relative) like that?
Do you know businesses that operate like that? I do…
There’s one that sends me an email newsletter I like. It has lots of interesting stuff. And often the newsletter prompts readers to reply: “What do you think?” or “We’d like your opinion” or the always-on “We value your feedback. Drop us a line.”
I’ve replied to these prompts three times in the last few months.
I have never (NOT ONCE) received any reply.
Makes me think: “If you’re not going to reply to my email, why’d you ask me to send it?”
Our digital world is littered with businesses that operate this way.
Some are big operations like the one that sends me the emails. Others are solo shops lobbing connection requests all over social media.
They talk at you. They share their endless wisdom. They pitch their stuff -- relentlessly.
And if they bother to ask, “What’s on your mind?” they tune out when you reply.
I’m so done with those businesses.
The one that sends me that newsletter. I may glance at the emails from time-to-time. But I’m not going to reach out again.
And I’m NOT going to buy their products or services.
Why not? Because there are plenty of businesses out there that want to engage with me.
There are plenty of businesses out there that listen to my answer when they ask me a question. There are plenty of businesses out there that treat a business relationship as a mutually beneficial exchange.
I’ll choose those businesses every time.
Which kind of business do you choose to be?
If you don’t want to be the kind of business that listens and responds thoughtfully when prospects and customers interact with you, that’s OK. There are plenty of businesses out there that choose not to engage prospects and customers.
But if you don’t plan to engage with your prospects and customers, don’t ask them to engage with you -- unless you want to annoy them, undermine trust and lose sales.
Tom Ruwitch is Founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. Coaches, consultants, and other thought leaders choose Story Power to attract more leads, keep them engaged and interested, and inspire them to act. More at StoryPowerMarketing.com.