False Listening


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December 7, 2010

Do you ever get the same survey from a company or organization, year after year? Does it make you mad?

It should.

When you get the same survey again and again, it means the company is not listening. They’re just measuring your answers against some yearly target.

Listening has to evolve and deepen, or else it’s not listening. I was reminded of this while reading a post by Leadership Freak on Improvisational Listening. The nub:

I think most people seldom if ever feel they’ve been truly heard. I believe one of your greatest powers is the power to affirm another through listening.

When I began helping the Portland Development Commission, our first survey covered ground that the participants were used to, since we needed to start somewhere. The members practically threw tomatoes at us. We planned two more surveys, and everyone was convinced they’d be terrible.

In fact, members got a shock: the 2nd survey took into account what we learned from the first. The third was smarter than the second. As a result, they bought into the process and made it theirs. Because we were seen to be listening and learning, we earned the commitment of the members.

So, if you’re tempted to throw out the same old survey, remember what your respondents are thinking: “If you’re not listening, then why am I speaking to you?”

If listening doesn’t change the relationship, it’s not a real relationship.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Thompson Morrison
Thompson Morrison has spent the last couple of decades figuring out how companies can listen better. Before co-founding FUSE, Mr. Morrison was Managing Director of AccessMedia International (AP), a consulting firm that provides strategic market analysis for the IT industry. His clients included Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, IBM, and Vignette.


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