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If I could tell you exactly what you were thinking right now, would I have your attention? Whether it’s business or personal relationships, we all want to be heard. We want people to hear what we have to say. We want people’s attention.
Here’s the terrible truth: people only listen to what they want to hear. It’s true. Attention spans are short. We’re bombarded with ads, we scroll through infinite feeds, we are masters at tuning out. If we don’t want to hear something, we don’t listen to it—it’s that simple.
In order to be heard by people, you have to convince them that you’re reading their mind. “I was just wondering that. That’s exactly what I was thinking! How did you know what I needed?”
The answer is super simple: No, you’re not actually reading their mind, you’re doing the one thing almost nobody does—listening.
What are you listening for? That’s exactly what we talk about in this episode. We go into what to listen for, and how to deliver what you have to say in a package of what somebody already wants to hear. You’ll have people swearing you read their minds.
If you’re not being heard, you’re not being a good listener. People listen to what they want to hear. A good listener knows what’s relevant.
— Sean McCabe (@seanwes) August 5, 2014
- The Problem
- 06:22 Attention spans are short and seem to be growing shorter every day with the increasing amount of noise and information being thrown at us. The difficultly is how can we make ourselves heard?
- 06:49 What people don’t realize is you have to listen to be heard. If you want to be heard, you have to listen. Listen for what other people are saying:
- What are they asking for?
- What are they seeking?
- What problems do they have?
- 08:16 When you listen, it becomes obvious what people want. This is important in business just as much as it is in personal relationships.
- 08:50 If you’re just waiting to talk, then you’re not listening. If you’re not listening then the chance of what you say being relevant is lower.
- 09:52 “But I need to focus on what I’m saying and my delivery. I need a lot of concentration, that’s why I spend some of the time that the other person is talking thinking about what I’m going to say.”
- 10:06 What does it matter if you speak and deliver something perfectly when no one is listening?
- 10:21 In order to make what you say relevant, you need to be listening. This means you need to be listening to the right things. If you’re listening to too much, then you’re not going to be catering what you say to the right audience. You have to curate what you listen to. What are you consuming?
- Are you listening to, focused on, invested in the people you’re trying to reach?
- Are you getting to know them?
- Are you getting to know their problems?
- Are you getting to know what matters to them?
- Are you getting to know what’s important to them?
- 11:01 Become intimately familiar with their language, their culture, and their fears—the place they are right now.
- “I’m not being heard.”
- 11:24 “No one is paying any attention to me. No one wants to hear what I have to say.”
- 11:38 A good listener knows what people are asking for. A good listener knows what is relevant to people by what they talk about. When you know these things, you can provide something of relevancy.
- 11:53 “Sometimes what I have to say isn’t necessarily what people want to hear. What then?”
- 11:59 You need to make the tie to what people do want to hear. You have to formulate a transition. You have to make the connection between what you have to say and what people want to hear.
- 12:11 Let’s be honest: People are mostly about themselves. They’re looking out for #1. They’re thinking about what they want to say next. It’s difficult to get people to listen to you. The way you get people to listen to you is to tell them what they want to hear. Give the answers to the problems that they have and the things that they’re seeking.
- 13:32 Before people are open to hearing a solution, the person providing the solution needs to demonstrate their understanding of the problem.
- 14:03 Attention is the key. It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking perfectly and delivering flawlessly if it falls on deaf ears. You need that attention. The only way you get that attention is if you diffuse the problem and diffuse the feeling. Acknowledge that you understand:
- “That’s frustrating.”
- “I understand.”
- “That makes sense. I can see why you feel that way.”
- 14:39 You have to make a transition between what you have to say and what the other person is looking for—what they want to hear.
- How to make people listen when you speak
- 17:25 Think of the people you listen to that you admire. Think of the people who, if they open their mouth, you drop everything, and you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for the first gold nugget to fall out of their mouths. Now evaluate the things those people have said:
- Are they consistently irrelevant, or are they consistently relevant?
- Are they adding to the noise, or are they contributing value?
- What is their track record like?
- Why does what they say matter to you?
- 18:11 Most of the time, the people whose every word you hang on speak when they have something good to say. Otherwise, they’re not adding to the noise. It’s a track record thing (Boy Who Cried “Wolf” example).
- What are you saying in person?
- 18:57 How about you? When you go to a meetup, when you hang out with friends, when you go to get coffee, when you meet someone new—what do you talk about? What comes out of your mouth?
- Is it about you?
- Do you vent about your frustrations?
- Are you about other people?
- Are you about trying to see what matters to them?
- Are you trying to help them?
- Are you about their problems?
- Are you sharing your stories when it’s relevant to them?
- Are you sharing helpful information and insights?
- Or are you gossiping and talking about things that don’t matter?
- 19:43 Whatever you share the most is what people will associate with you. When you share a lot of things that don’t matter, it dilutes your voice. You have less weight to your voice when you talk about things that don’t matter.
- 20:00 Let’s say you’re an author of a book people really liked. However on Twitter, you’re incredibly irrelevant with very hit-and-miss tweets and only occasionally share valuable things. Whenever you are irrelevant, you are detracting from every other relevant thing you do. You may think, “Oh, but I’m really curated and focused on my blog.” This does not fly. Believe it or not, many people engage with you only on one platform. Not everyone follows you in all 5 places you post. This one platform could be someone’s only experience with you and you are wasting that potential influence by being irrelevant. You just squandered the one experience that person has with you.
- 21:17 You have to assume that people only follow you on one channel. That means you should not use a platform that you’re not going to be fully present on or have a curated presence where you provide value. Because someone is going to be following you on that platform and no other platform and that experience is going to shape their perception of you. It will shape their perception of your brand, your person, your voice, and your value.
- How often are you engaging with others?
- How often are you posting your stuff?
- How often are you posting other people’s stuff?
- How often are you posting animated gifs?
- How often are you sharing educational resources?
- How often are you sharing time wasters?
- Just creating media does not guarantee you’ll be heard
- 22:31 Podcasts are getting easier and easier to start. It’s the nature of the internet. It was the same with blogging: In the early days, you had to know a LOT of technical stuff to even get a website online.
- 22:59 More than likely if you went through all of that effort, you treated your blog really special. But as time went on, the barrier to entry lowered for blogging. As the barrier to entry decreased, the noise increased. Quality went down. Now there are millions of blogs and most are terrible.
- 23:38 It’s the same with video. “My computer has a built-in webcam, I can just press record and upload a video to YouTube!” But of course this does not result in instant-success. It just results in greater noise. The successful YouTubers are successful because they treat it like a show. They produce, they prepare, they use transcripts, they take and re-take, they obsess over lighting and camera quality.
- 24:06 Not that long ago, you had to have a bunch of money to do video. Because you had to be so serious, you treated it more seriously. You treated it like a production: “If we’re going to do this thing; if we’re going to get this whole crew out here and setup lights and cameras and all this stuff, then we’re going to write scripts. We’re going to treat it like it’s something that matters.” The people who are successful are the people who have this mindset.
- 25:23 As the barrier to entry decreases, the quality diminishes.
- 25:26 Now we’re experiencing the same thing with podcasting. Podcasts are getting easier and easier to start. People think, “All I have to do is setup a website with a plugin and a feed, press record and upload.” They think it’s their therapy session. They think it’s their Think-Out-Loud Playground: “I love podcasting! I figure out so many things when I talk!” That’s not what podcasting is for. That’s disrespectful to listeners. People don’t have time to listen to you figure things out out loud. You owe it to them to prepare. If you can’t prepare by writing, then you need to go through the process of “thinking out loud into your own personal recording” and then refining that.
- 27:29 Showing up and turning on the mic and streaming your consciousness is disrespectful to listeners. That’s not podcasting any more than banging a keyboard is blogging. No one says, “Come to my blog and watch me live write!” That’s not interesting. There’s going to be a lot of garbage. Ask any writer. The first draft is terrible. You don’t put out your first draft to thousands of people, you refine it.
- 28:40 Ask yourself beforehand: What are people going to get out of this? What do I want to leave people with?
- 30:13 “Too many people already do what I want to do.”
- The above-linked post resonated significantly more than anything I’d written in recent weeks. Do you know why?
- Because it was directly, word-for-word, what someone sent to me in an email in response to the question: “What’s the primary thing that’s keeping you from pursuing your passion?”
- 32:14 I was listening. When I sat down to write my Sunday newsletter, instead of just writing whatever I wanted, I went through my archive of email responses from people sharing the biggest challenges they were facing. When I spoke directly to it, the post resonated and struck a nerve. People said it was like I was reading their mind.
- Sponsors & Voice Dilution
- 35:24 When you use your voice time to sell someone else’s product, you dilute the concentration of your voice. Think about it. There is a 5% chance that if you open your mouth, I will hear a sponsored advertisement.
- 36:03 Even if it’s to a small degree, you’re diluting your voice by however much time you give to sponsors. Your listener cannot know with 100% certainty that the next thing you say will not be a sponsored advertisement.
- 36:20 Now, I’m using sponsors in this example, but I think it can be anything. Evaluate:
- What are you doing on a regular basis?
- Are you doing something or saying something every 10th thing you put out?
- Think about the things you’re doing regularly and habitually.
- Is this diluting my voice?
- Am I putting something out there that could put in the mind of my listener, followers, subscriber these questions:
- “Do I know that the next thing that this person says is going to be valuable?”
- “Do I know that the next thing that this person posts is going to be relevant?
- “Do I know that the next email that I open from this person is going to help me with my problem?
- 39:15 The goal is to give your voice weight. Your voice only has weight when you’re not using it to say things that don’t matter; when you’re not using it to just put noise into the world; when you’re just adding a bunch of fluff; when you’re not throwing things that aren’t what people are asking for into their face. You have to be relevant. You have to listen in order to be heard.
There’s a difference between listening and waiting to talk.
You have to fall in love with the problem, not your solution to the problem.
If you’re not being heard, you’re not being a good listener.
Once you know what someone needs, you have to deliver it in a package of what they want.
The more you stream your consciousness, the greater your output of noise is.
The greater your output of noise, the lower the chance that when your mouth is open something valuable is coming out.
The lower the chance you’re offering value when your mouth is open the less people will hear you.
Want to know how to read minds? Listen.
So few people actually do it, they’ll swear you read their mind when you say exactly what people told you.