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The Lost Art of Listening

Do you remember the last time you were at a business and really had the warm and fuzzies, and a faith in humanity restored moment?

Maybe it was at your kid’s last birthday party, recent dinner out or when you finally found that tool at the local hardware store. Whatever it was, I hope it wasn’t too long ago.

For me, it was when I recently switched pharmacies.

We used to hit up the Target pharmacy to fill my asthmatic son’s prescriptions. For me it was purely based on convenience – close to home, and who doesn’t love grabbing socks, toilet paper and an inhaler in one trip?

My love affair with Target pharmacy died a slow death – and, the sickness began when someone there didn’t listen effectively and filled a prescription for my son under the wrong name.

Ouch – filling an asthmatic’s medicine under the wrong name (they switched his first and last name around) and thus preventing me from picking it up. I couldn’t help but ask, and ask over and over, how could that happen?

The root of the problem was someone made an assumption and the mistake snowballed from there. Was someone too concerned with getting the prescriptions filled quickly? (How many phone calls can you make in a day?) Are pharmacy employees’ success measured by how quickly they can fill a prescription and how many per day can be filled? (What’s your monthly quota?)

When we switched pharmacies I was in la la land.  I found what I was looking for – someone who listened.

Listening 1,2,3

  • Be Reasonable
  • Listen without an agenda
  • Ask lots of (relevant and open ended) questions

What would it mean:

If there was a personal touch made right off the bat?

Example: “I see you’re looking at a Honda Odyssey. I’ve had one for 4 years – great asset with soccer games for my son Anderson.”

“I can completely relate to the appeal to the new Explorer – I’ve always wanted a Land Rover, but these really cover everything I’ve ever wanted in a vehicle.  Last weekend, I took my son and his friends snowboarding and fit everything in back. Hard to do with teens, right?”

THEN, take that further.

Follow up can take a whole new direction when the right foundation is laid.

Listen, listen and then listen again.

Just like you, the person on the phone or reading the email has something to do next, something that is begging for attention – like running to the pharmacy quick.