Talk less and listen more

The Online Noise

Some days the noise online just drives me crazy. The constant movement of my Twitter feed, do I want to see the recent updates on Facebook or the top stories or heeeyyyy, what was that image that came across my Pinterest page? Did I pin that already?

This is what social media has turned us into – a bunch of grown-ups with social ADD.

But then some days, I just take a step back and listen to the noise. I use my time online reading the comments, status updates and tweets. I don’t think about how I’m going to respond. I just listen to what others are saying.

The Lost Art of Listening

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Think about that for a minute. Let it sit in your head for a full 60 seconds. Don’t think about what you have to do later today or someone you forgot to call. Just be quiet for a minute and think about the words you just read.

When I relate that quote to social media, it makes me think of this: People will forget what you’ve posted, they’ll forget what event you tweeted about but they will never forget the person who made them feel important because you heard what they had to say.

They’ll remember the ones who really listened to them.

How to listen online

We all know how to listen when people are standing right next to us. I don’t have to tell you to put your phone down and put your stuff away. And when you’re really listening, do your best to look them in the eye.

This is the kind of thing I say to my son Jake. I’m on daily with my “put down the iPad and look at me when I’m talking to you” conversation with him. But he’s a 10 year old boy with 10 year old boy thoughts moving quickly through that head of his.

Alright you get this point a heck of a lot more than Jake does. So other than reading posts and replying to comments when someone asks a questions, how do we show people that we’re listening to them online?

1. Stick with what you know

You can’t be everything to everyone. When you believe in something, it shows. And people will come to your site expecting to learn about what you know.

When I think about my site and why my readers are here, I’m pretty sure it’s not because I’m listing the top WordPress plugins or how to use Google Adword campaigns.

My readers show up because I’m a small business owner like you. I live in a crazy busy world full of client projects, teaching workshops and trying to fit conference calls in between the times I need to pick up my kid from school.

And I get how important social media marketing is for us solopreneurs. It gives us just as much opportunity to reach new customers as the big brands.

I think we even have the advantage over the corporate folks as we can react quicker, we’re in the daily trenches and we know our business better than a team of marketing people who may not even live in the same city.

I get all that and I love trying to teach you new ways to fit social marketing into your day. I get excited learning about the different ways people use social media.

And then when I can pull it all together – new ways to use social media combined with the information about how you can reach your community to get the right messages heard by the people who want to buy your stuff – it’s like “winner winner, chicken dinner time!”

In my blog posts, my Strategy Builder workbook and in my Social Media Conversations newsletter, I get to tell you everything I’ve heard when I’m listening online.

So I stick to what I believe in that helps small business owners.

Think about how you can share what you’ve heard online. Show people what you’re listening to and how they can benefit from you sticking to what you know and love.

2. Say what everyone is thinking

I’m a rather blunt person. Some days, it’s to my detriment but most of the time, my straight forward way of talking gets people thinking. I may not tell you what you want to hear but I’ll always tell you what you need to hear.

I’m never mean spirited about how I say things. There’s just some days that stuff comes out of my mouth when it probably should have been a thought bubble.  That’s just me and the way I am.

What would happen if you took a risk and talked about the things that others were commenting about? What if you had the answers to the problems people were complaining about in that Facebook post that got 25 shares and over 50 comments?

Maybe the solution is something your company does and you know you can fix their problems. What if you said the words that everyone was thinking but didn’t turn it into a big hard sell moment?

And then you create blog posts to give them the steps they need.

Then take a step further and developed an online program to help them work through their problems. I mean a cool affordable program that would give them creative prompts to get them to think about how they can resolve these issues.

You know you can help because you listened.

3. Show you care

The reality of listening online is this: People won’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care.

This is why it’s so important in this world of constant online noise to learn how to talk less and listen more.

I see you

Take a look at this passage from The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter Senge:

Among the tribes of northern Natal in South Africa, the most common greeting, equivalent to “hello” in English, is the expression: “sawu bona.” It literally means, “I see you.” If you are a member of the tribe, you might reply by saying “sikhona” or “I am here.” The order of the exchange is important: until you see me, I do not exist. It’s as if, when you see me, you bring me into existence.”

Think about how you can spend some time every week listening. And then show your community that you’re not just trying to sell them something. You’re saying, “I see you AND hear you because you are here.”

Photo credit: Listen 

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Read More: Hearing What We Want To Hear