“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” – Stephen R. Covey.
I both love and hate this quote. I love it because it is simple, yet thoughtful. I hate it because it seems to happen more often than not in our day to day interactions. You look at this past election, and no matter what part of the aisle you fell on, it felt like the main goal was to just be heard. Town hall conversations don’t seem the same because it seems that the presenter has pre-cooked responses to everything. It doesn’t feel like they are truly listening to the question that was asked. And it is not just a political thing either. You see it in our day to day interactions as consumers as we try to obtain the product or service we desire.
But in order to be a true partner, you set yourself apart by being that person, group, or institution that listens more and talks less. You need to take the time to sit down with your members to truly understand their needs. This notion that everyone needs to fit in this little box, just so we can make an efficient and quality product is ridiculous. Situations can be similar, but they are never the same.
It is important that you take the time to understand your member’s needs. The most human way to go about this is by having conversations with those members. Take the time to let them tell you what it is they are looking for, and during that time don’t say a word. The other way is using data that is at your fingertips. I have mentioned this in a previous blog, but HMDA data is readily available for you to use. Heck that was initially one of the main factors for collecting it in the first place. The tools are there, you just need to use them.
The next step is to put what you have learned into action. You now have to show that member that you did hear them, and this what you plan to do. Too many times we think we need to be innovative with everything, and it all needs to be done at rocket speed. But what if that is not what the member wants? A person’s financials play a significant role in their life, and while being efficient with their time is key, they also want to know what they are getting into without being surprised. That is how you gain their trust, and how you gain the reputation of being the trusted partner in the community.
So stop contributing to the noise and take the time to listen. You may end up liking what you hear.