Business & Finance Corporations

Listen Well and Win

Recently, I attended a breakfast with one of my clients and a prospective business partner.
It was our first meeting, so we were looking forward to exploring the synergies between the companies and gaining insight into each other's backgrounds and experience.
Right? Isn't that what first-time exploratory business meetings are for? Oh, how wrong I was.
I'm not a newbie so I've experienced this before, but I continue to be amazed and frankly disappointed every time this happens.
He literally wouldn't stop talking about himself.
Now, at face value, that's not an entirely awful thing.
After all, my goal when meeting someone knew, especially in business, is to learn as much as I can about that person - their background, their experience, and their goals.
It's amazing what you can discover when you ask questions and truly listen...
and really WANT to understand the other person.
But the power is in the give and take, isn't it? I ask you some questions, you ask me some questions, we both LISTEN to each other.
We enjoy learning a little about each person's unique story and inevitably finding those coincidences that are so unexpected.
Maybe we went to the same college, are from the same area of the country, have friends in common, have children the same age, the same hobby, perhaps our spouses have worked at the same company, one of us was a founding member of Google and is a billionaire, maybe one of us competed in the Olympics or is related to a President.
Who knows! The things you discover when you meet new people can be fascinating! But when you don't ask, you won't discover.
When you don't stop talking, you have no shot at learning.
Needless to say, I gained a ton of insight into this guy during our meeting and learned a lot about him in a short amount of time (and he learned virtually nothing about the rest of us).
But that's probably not good for him...
because he wouldn't stop talking about himself, he revealed things that people normally try to hide.
Things like...
"I think I'm really wonderful" or "I'm more important than the other people at this table" or "My life is so perfect I just can't stop gushing about it" or "I really don't care to learn anything about anyone else because I'm very insecure" or "The sound of my voice is so soothing, isn't it?".
OK, I'm going a bit overboard here, but you get the picture! It should always be a red flag when you experience someone like this.
It should make you wonder about what they are hiding, what their true agenda is, and why they are so obviously disinterested in you.
It makes me pause...
it should make you do the same.
Intentionally be someone who is more interested in others than in telling your own story.
I teach my clients and my kids this all the time.
Ask questions...
care about the answers...
ask more questions, listen and learn.
You win if you show more care and concern about others and what makes them tick - and the bonus is that you will make people feel great about themselves.
This is the kind of person I want to have breakfast with, partner and prosper with - how about you?

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