I talk to people for a living. Although much of my conversation is over the phone, even more is electronic. And yes, I consider email as conversation. Texting also. They are all mediums to conduct dialogue. In some cases, electronic communication is the only way some people will engage. People don’t like talking anymore. But that’s another conversation for another day.
I was on a call recently with a C-Level executive. We exchanged small talk at the outset of the conversation, then moved to business. The executive began asking me questions and I, of course, answered them. Then a funny thing started happening. This executive asked me a question that I had already answered. The information was embedded in another to a previous question, but it wasn’t something that should have been missed. A couple of minutes later, it happened again. I thought, “I already spoke about that.” But, not wanting to embarrass this individual, I answered as if I was hearing this for the first time.
All in all, it happened three times on the call. Clearly my audience wasn’t listening. I’m not sure what was going on; perhaps they were distracted. Perhaps I was boring them (I highly doubt it). In all honesty, it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse for such poor listening skills or a lack of willingness to be fully present on a high stakes call.
I wish this wasn’t typical. Unfortunately, it is. It happens in live dialogue and it happens in written dialogue. Don’t you love getting an email back with a question that you anticipate and answered in a previous email? What’s fascinating to me is that people apparently aren’t aware (or don’t care) how stupid it makes them look. Forget the fact that it exposes poor listening skills…it comes across as a lack of intelligence.
This is an easy fix. Engage. Be present. Listen. Your personal brand is at stake.