I headed out today to get some fresh air and grab lunch at a local burger joint. The cool fall weather had me craving comfort food – a burger topped with pastrami, warm fries and fry sauce (it’s a Utah thing).
The chosen establishment was quite crowded with business suits, construction workers and everything in-between. After ordering my food I selected a table, sat and began brainstorming and jotting down some thoughts (I’m a big fan of the Evernote app). My noodling was interrupted by the sound of a gentleman seated nearby with a couple sitting across from him.
“I always like to get to know people first before I give them a bid” he boomed. The loud exclamation combined with the rehearsed manner with which he delivered it caught my attention. I don’t normally eavesdrop, but it was impossible to ignore him.
Over the next fifteen minutes he talked about all the jobs he’d done, the companies he worked for (many of which he complained about), the bosses he’d reported to (I think he liked at least one of them), and all the extremely happy customers who absolutely loved him and the work he did. Yes, for the couple listening to his rant it was like drinking from a fire hose.
He hadn’t touched his food, which had long since been delivered to their table. In fact, he’d barely stopped long enough to take a breath. Meanwhile the couple politely nodded their head while doing their best to consume the meal and end this all too awkward lunch. When the gentleman finally stopped speaking an uncomfortable silence loomed over their table. I looked up from my meal to see what would happen next.
The man’s eyes dart back and forth between the couple, then he said “So… tell me a little about you guys!” and promptly devoured a mouthful of burger. I almost laughed at loud and had to take a sip of my Coke to stifle it.
Today’s lesson learned: You can’t get to know people by talking at them. Stop talking – start listening.
- Listen to your customers
- Listen to your co-workers
- Listen to your kids
- Listen to your spouse
- Listen to your friends
By listening you’ll truly get to know people and they’ll appreciate you for it.
Sub-lesson: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. That poor couple paid dearly for their lunch.
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