The Lesson From a Bagel Shop

There it was in plain sight, right next to the list of cream cheese flavors. A simple sign printed in big block letters.

“LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND… NOT TO RESPOND”

What the heck is that doing in a bagel shop I wondered? So I asked.

“It’s an excerpt from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the owner told me. “They are my adopted words. I live by them. I put them up to remind other people what’s important, no matter what their calling in life is.”

Wow, I thought; pretty deep stuff for a bagel store. Yet how many people come in here on a daily basis for a bacon, egg and cheese and ignore that advice? How many stand in line but don’t notice or process those words?

Too often people who listen for a living fail to do just that—listen. They either don’t have the aptitude or the outlet to do so. Some sales people for example are ready to jump all over the next objection instead of tuning into what a prospect is really telling them. There are also more than a few managers who are too busy barking orders to learn from the people they manage—the very people who know more about the work in question than they do.

Your recognition program can help here. It can reward sales reps that probe beyond their customer’s stated needs and uncover the real reasons for their buying. It can also help managers hear their employees on a new level. It can give workers an opening for expressing their ideas and insight. That helps managers understand what their employees have to say about supporting the business.

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