“What Do I Say To Someone To Get _____?” (An Opinion) by Russ DeVan

Ah yes; “The Holy Grail” of answers sought by Network marketers and new aspiring sellers and recruiters all over the globe.

The blank may be filled in with : “…someone interested in me; a product; or a financial opportunity!”

Okay… Paradigm Shift Alert: What if, many times,the key to communication is NOT in what we say? Huh? No, seriously. Maybe if we remembered to be more interested in who we were talking to instead of what to say (listening) “what to say” might occur organically?

 When you see a friend you haven’t seen for awhile, do you agonize over how to approach them? OF COURSE NOT!! Do you say: “Hi John! haven’t seen you in forever. I bet you’re wondering all about me! let me talk for the next 20 minutes and then if I have time, maybe I’ll let you say something?”

Isn’t it more like; “OH MY GOSH! How have you been? Tell me everything? How are you doing?” 

Now the reader may be thinking; “Alright, Russ, I know how to make ‘small talk’ but how do you do that with a total stranger?”

 No, I’m NOT talking about “small talk.” I’m talking about listening because you’re interested. Listening without an AGENDA. By the way, having an agenda is just FINE! It’s HIDING it that gets us in the weeds.

Don’t believe me? Go up to a friend or stranger, sometime, and start your conversation with “I have an agenda!” and then say nothing.

Dale Carnegie said, about a million years ago, something so profound it has been repeated in thousands of trainings for decades. It’s almost a cliche. Yet, it is so subtle it is often forgotten: He said: “Interested people are interesting.”

Everyone listens.

It is a misnomer that some listen and some don’t. Even the hearing impaired “listen.” But it’s understanding HOW we listen, that is where mastery in communication truly begins.

Thirty years ago, I was blessed to have four powerful coaches (and dear friends) in my life: Richard B. Brooke, Mike Smith and his wife,Tinka, and the unforgettable Carol McCall, who has made a life and a living from…you got it….listening.

Ontology (a philosophy that means “the study of being) teaches that there are two “kinds” of listening. The first, often referred to as “automatic” or “reflexive” listening is the one we are born with. Carol referred to it as our “always” listening.

Have you ever been listening to someone, but at the same time been THINKING: “Will you hurry up and get to the point?” or “You already said that!”  or “I disagree with what you’re saying.” or “How do I look?” “Do you like me?” “Oooh…You just reminded me of what I have to tell you right NOW!” or “Did I remember to turn off the stove?”

Getting the picture? We’re NOT there.

Now, I have a sister-in-law (sorry, Kathy) who has “looking listening” down to an art form! She can be looking straight in your eyes, nodding affirmatively, uttering guttural affirmations such as : “Uh, huh!” “MMMhmmm!” and my personal favorite “Yes!”

But guess what? Lights may be on, but no one is home.

And you know what? I’ve done the same thing. I assert we ALL have! It’s part of the human condition!

I have good news and bad news. I’ll give you the bad news first. You can’t get rid of or change your automatic listening. It’s like your skin. We’re stuck with it! Here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to get in your way anymore.

The key to GOVERNING your reactive listening is NOTICING it! The very moment you DO, you can GENERATE a different kind.

One of the best examples I can think of for  automatic listening comes from the commercial flying experience. The FAA regulates that before a plane leaves the ground, emergency and important safety instructions must be recited to the passengers; EVERY TIME!

When was the last time you actually were listening to how the seat belt is fastened, where the lights on the floor are; or you turned around to spot the emergency exits? How about how to blow up the life vest or what to do if the masks drop down? Our listening is: “Thanks, got it….about 480 flights ago!” 

That’s AUTOMATIC listening. 

Now the plane is at 33,000 feet and blows an engine! The cabin goes dark. You feel the sensation of losing altitude, as the brave flight attendant struggles to the front of the cabin, and speaks into the intercom……HOW ARE YOU LISTENING, NOW? Yep…. that’s “GENERATED” listening.

“Generated listening” is listening like you are a blank piece of paper that someone else is writing on. It is even possible, if you practice, that when you generate listening you can sometimes hear what someone DOESN’T say!

What do you listen for? Well, I say that if I were to describe all human beings and nearly 90% of their motives and actions, I could do it with just two words: concerns and commitments. Want to hear what someone is committed to? Talk to them (more importantly LISTEN) and ask about their family, their passion, their loves, their OPINION (s)!! Want to hear their concerns? Ask them about their health, their time, their regrets. 

Most selling techniques teach us to listen for resistance so that we can overcome it. I believe that attempting to overcome resistance is precisely what keeps it in place. How do you overcome an objection without making someone wrong?

What if you gave “resistance” lots and lots of room to be there. Even the unthinkable “NO!” was okay? “Is this a pyramid?”  Before automatic listening takes you to “Defcon Five” you might try:

“Do you have a concern?” “Well Yeah! I was in Amway once and…….”

Listen. Be interested, Compassionate. Get their frustration., misunderstanding… pain. When they slow down, or stop, or if you don’t understand their resistance, say: “Could you please say more about that?” and then LISTEN some more! Invariably they will feel heard, appreciated, maybe even “special?” 

That moment might be a good time to offer: “So are you open to the possibility of….?”

I won’t say much about the world or what’s happened in the last year. There’s plenty of theories more interesting than mine about how to “fix” what seems to have gone terribly wrong.

Caroll McCall told me once that she believed that listening and creating the room for someone to be heard could shift, change, even heal the world. I think she was right.

For those of you who still might be concerned about what to say or even saying the wrong thing? Just remember Russ’ Law: A closed mouth gathers no feet.

Russ DeVan
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