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The Consequences of Failing to Listen

I was preparing for some traveling recently. I was going to take a road trip but I wanted to find a gym to go to so I wouldn’t miss my workout routines. I Google-searched the gyms located in the area where I would be and called the first one, which happened to be a Planet Fitness.

The gentleman who answered the phone identified himself as a Fitness Trainer.

I explained that I would be in town for one week only and I wanted to know if they offered a one-week pass for sale.

I was expecting a Yes or a No response.

Instead, the Fitness Trainer asked me to hold for just a moment. He must have grabbed a sales script, because when he got back on the phone, he began reading a sales script, verbatim, as if he imagined I was going to possibly join the gym as a new client. As he droned on and on for about a minute, something on his end caused an interruption and he put me on hold again. I immediately hung up and called the next gym on my list.

This time, the young lady I spoke to said she understood what I was trying to achieve, and she informed me that they did, in fact, offer one-week passes for a very reasonable fee. Done! My problem was solved.

But back to the Planet Fitness trainer. I suspect he is going to really struggle. Why? Because he looks at the world through a sales filter, and has blinders on. If my experience with him was typical of how he interacts with others, that means he does not possess the skill or ability to listen and comprehend what other people are saying to him. He has his various default actions he takes – reading irrelevant scripts to someone who has no intention of fulfilling the trainer’s wishes. He will alienate people. He will lose people.

A lack of listening ability brings with it a Pandora’s Box of calamities. The non-listener ends up groping his way through life, depending on “getting it right” through trial and error – mostly error – and does things the hard way.

Some people are naturally gifted listeners, but anyone can make the decision to be a listener, to concentrate and focus on what is being said to him by others, to process and diagnose before prescribing.

It’s a choice. A wise choice.

Ara Norwood is a multi-faceted and results-oriented professional. Spanning a multiplicity of disciplines including leadership, management, innovation, strategy, service, sales, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. Ara is also a historian, having special expertise on the era of the founding of our republic.
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