I’m sure you’ve had moments where, when talking to someone, you could totally tell they’re just not interested.
Their eyes start searching the room, they shift position, and they don’t acknowledge anything of what you’re saying. You might as well be talking to a wall.
“Are you even listening to me?” you finally ask.
“Yeah, yeah…” they answer insincerely, as they bring up their mobile phone and whisper:
“Just give me a sec so I can check my messages. John was supposed to contact me but he never did.”
Defeated, you nod, and they add:
“Thanks man, it’s r e a l l y important.”
The thing is, even if you’re the best paid actor in the world, it’s almost impossible to feign genuine interest. To be interested, you need to at least care about the person you’re talking to, or about the topic of your conversation (preferably both).
You need to care, and you need to show it by giving someone your undivided attention.
Now, to many, that seems to be a novel concept. We’re way too busy to pay attention to anything for longer than ten seconds. I’m actually surprised you’re still reading this blog! Shouldn’t you check your email?
THE POWER OF FOCUS
It has been said that powerful leaders have an extraordinary ability to make the person they’re interacting with feel like they are the most important person in the room. They are masters of being in the moment, totally focused, and aware.
When’s the last time you have experienced that? When did your work partner, or even your life partner, look you in the eye, being fully present, and say:
“Tell me, what’s going on?” followed by silence.
In a world purposely filled with a million distractions, it isn’t easy to shut out all the noise and remain focused. Our mind is always wondering: “What’s next?” “What could I be missing?”
It’s like being in a restaurant. When we’re eating our appetizer, we’re already thinking about the main course, and when we’re eating the main course we’re wondering about dessert. That way we never fully taste what’s in our mouth when we’re eating it.
We deprive ourselves of an amazing experience.
To what end, I wonder?
What does this bring us that’s so important, other than a mild endorphin rush?
DUMP THE DISTRACTIONS
Let’s move from the personal to the professional.
In a way, clients are just like people. They want to be heard. They need to be acknowledged. They want to feel that you care about them and care about the project you’re working on.
So, when you interact with them, make sure you’re done with all distractions. Listen first, before you open your mouth. Make sure you understand what they’re saying. If you don’t, ask for clarification. Then respond.
Tell them what you like about the project, and why it resonates with you. Show them that you’re more than a hired help. Be involved, be engaged, and be excited. Answer questions about your process so they feel comfortable about what’s going to happen next.
This has nothing to do with going “above and beyond.” You do this because that’s how you treat the people you’re in a relationship with.
Those enviable colleagues who consistently secure return business, they have a secret. They know that they have to invest in the relationship first, before they seal the deal and make the sale.
They know that, even though you may think they’re negotiating a $1,500 project, this project may very well lead to another and another. And when you add it all up, this supposedly one-time client, is worth $30,000 by the end of the year.
But let’s go even deeper, shall we?
After all, this is the nether voice blog.
BE HERE NOW
There’s one more reason you should be serious about showing you care, and why you should make an effort to be more in the moment. It has nothing to do with making boatloads of money, or pretending to be interested when you’re not.
Here’s the reason:
You should be in the moment because it’s the only thing that is real.
Think of it this way.
The past is over and will never come back.
Yes, you can have memories, but a memory is nothing but your subjective interpretation of what you believe happened, sometimes years and years ago.
If you are one of those people who is hanging on to memories that are less than positive, please realize that they only live in your mind because you clothe them, feed them, and give them attention.
When will you have the courage to ignore them, and let the past be the past?
If anything, let your past be a resource and not a restraint.
Let’s move from the past to the future.
The future does not exist because it has yet to happen.
Your idea of the future is a creative construction of what you believe might be. It’s a biased prediction, heavily colored by personal experience. Your idea of the future is just one very narrow possibility among billions of possibilities.
And yet we poison the moment with our worries, as if we know for sure what’s going to happen, making ourselves and those around us miserable.
The NOW is the only thing that exists.
The rest is an illusion.
Here’s the good news:
You can’t change the past, but you can influence the future by what you are doing at this moment.
Oddly enough, NOT doing something, can have just as much of an impact as doing something.
But don’t even think about what’s not going to happen because of all those things you’re not going to do.
Don’t even go there!
Be interested. Be present. Give the now your undivided attention.
It is the most momentous thing you can do.
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice