When’s the last time you had a really great conversation with a customer or a supplier and learned something about them. You may have answered, “Never.” But if you have had a great conversation with a customer or supplier, what did you speak about? What did you learn about who they are? What did you learn about what they believe? What did you learn about what drives them? What did you learn about what they need and want from life, others, business and you?
If you can’t remember, that’s okay. You’re just like the rest of us. Most of us in the business world operate in a surface level of small talk that generates surface level relationships and no usable information. This is how our typical conversation goes:
Person 1: “Hi, how are you?”
Person 2: “Fine”
Person 1: “That’s good.”
Person 1: “Travel was good I assume?”
Person 2: “Yes, no issues.”
And then we get on to what we consider to be ‘more important’ matters. We glaze over the answers we get and speak in generalities so vague that it’s difficult to know how we even feel about something, let alone how others feel about something.
We’re forgetting how to talk to each other.
In my estimation, the reason we’ve progressed so much as a human species is in large part due to our ability to pass on knowledge through conversation and stories. Now if you think about it, modern humans have been around for around 300,000 years and we only developed writing in in around 3400BC . The depth and richness of our conversations and non-verbal communications must have been incredibly diverse. It would have to be to pass on survival knowledge, wisdom, legends, agricultural knowledge and to operate trade relationships with each other. For most of our existence we’ve depended on the spoken word and non-verbal communication to get our message across to people and yet here we are, talking about the weather and how the drive into the office was.
Start asking each other questions and get curious! We need to learn to talk to each other!