August 27, 2002 Volume 2 Issue 12
Several years ago I read the book. The one by Monty Roberts. Horse whispering was the subject ... at the time something way out of the norm.
Most of the world had not heard about this most interesting way to break wild horses. Talking lightly, if at all - walking slowly - creating a "quiet feeling" and partnership with 1200 pounds of flesh and blood.
The "trick" is not in body language ... although moving with ease helps. Certainly it is not the words alone - even when you use soft expressions.
"You have to imagine the horse is deaf. And people,
So says the professional horse whisperer.
Which brings us to "appreciative listening". Over this summer I've included a note in this weekly E-zine about a new program I'm putting together. Karen Dietz is my story telling teacher. Part of what I've learned from her is "appreciative listening". Many of those concepts are close to horse whispering.
Listening is a strange thing. Without it communication takes a nose dive. Everyone knows this ... yet, listening is extremely difficult. A prime reason is we don't teach listening. Have you had a class on how to listen? Your answer is probably "no" - unless you have a telemarketing background. Because people good on the telephone must know how to listen.
Or, if you're a little older, you worked for the Sperry Rand Corporation in the late '70's or during the '80's. Sperry ran an advertising campaign titled "We Listen". It was so successful they took it on the road teaching listening to customers and prospects. And then anyone who wanted to "listen". Maybe you were one of the fortunate.
At the same time we're teaching our kids to read and write we should be teaching them listening. And yet today, no where in the world, is listening a part of primary education. It should be.
Okay, why does all of this matter to us in marketing? The communication tool of marketing. How does horse whispering and appreciative listening go together? Let's repeat part of the quote from the horse whispering expert:
" ... people ... see your lips move but they never
Why is this? Why do people see your lips move and not understand? A key reason is we - as people - don't feel comfortable getting too close to other people. Especially others we don't have a day-to-day relationship with. We act like animals! And to a large degree not much - if any - above horses in that feeling.
Our instinct is to resist and protect. To back away. To put up a fence. To say "no" before we even know what "no" is all about. Fact is - we simply don't listen. Harriet Rubin of Fast Company says it this way; "The most common act of anger is not listening." WOW ... strong stuff!
So, why then is it so difficult to listen? Several reasons - one being our mind works 4 times the speed most people talk. Our brain can absorb 600 words a minute - most speech is less than 150 words a minute. What that does is allow most of your brain to do something besides listen.
And guess what - it does! It wonders to avenues that have nothing to do with the message your boss, assistant or customer is sharing with you. With all this "spare time" available, you put it to other uses.
You're concerned about a new client getting off to a good start with you. About a report due on Friday. The sales meeting next week. You think about the golf game you played over the week-end. The basketball tournament your kids are in. The family holiday beginning in 2 weeks. A great dinner you enjoyed with your best friend. A movie you saw with your spouse. None of these things have anything to do with the words aimed in your direction - you have gone elsewhere.
Ditto when you're the speaker. Don't even think your audience understands your message. Not for one second should you "assume" the level of listening is high enough to get the full meaning of your communication. If there is anything we've learned in the advertising / marketing field it is repetition builds your reputation. Why is this so? Because people - your audience, your marketplace - is not listening. People are just like wild horses.
And people are different, too. Language does make a difference. In English, the world's largest language with over 625,000 words (Spanish is next with about 475,000 ... ... for comparison Japanese has less than 100,000), it's easy not to be understood. It gets worse - as you know there are scores of words in English pronounced the same and spelled different. And others spelled different and pronounced the same.
When it comes to meanings - it's even more interesting. The 500 most common words in English have 13,000 meanings! It's no wonder we have mis-understandings. It's not a surprise you tune out - or are tuned out. Listening is tough work.
Let's define appreciative listening. On the surface it is simple;
Appreciative listening is exchanging places with
i.e., you become the audience, and listen for what they "hear". You "pause". You wait. You "listen". You feed off what you "hear".
Some of what you "hear" will be what you see. Or feel. Or "smell" or touch. Your senses go to work. All of your senses. Plus the sense of movement - how does your audience "move" - how do they react to your words? Body language is part of your message, too.
And then you use the seventh sense ... common sense. Which might be called horse sense. You apply what you learn. And either continue - or do it all over again. That is appreciative listening at work. You are working to ensure your message is not only heard and understood ...you also want it acted upon.
Horses are like people - or maybe it is people are like horses (good chance they were on this earth before we were!). We like leaders. Leaders we can trust. That person doesn't have to be a well known personality ... it can be just about anyone who truly leads. A Scoutmaster is a leader. So is the President of the Chamber of Commerce. And the Director of the local Garden Club. The armed services promote soldiers who lead their troops. You, when you are the presenter, are the leader.
You know it is more than words. "Yes", words are most important. Without words it is difficult to be an appreciated leader. Still, it is more than words. Your style, your look, your actions, your presence, your responses, your writing and your listening ability are all part of leadership. Part of your communication.
Just as horse whispering is a way to communicate with a horse - and have the animal follow the trainer, appreciative listening is way to communicate with people. Without words. Using the words that are there - and interpreting them with all your senses. Horse whispering.
When you relate to people with a totally open mind - to "hear" how they are listening - you become a better communicator. Because you are getting and using feedback. When you are the audience and reverse the process, the same thing happens ... respect and appreciation go up. As you are working at listening for understanding and action.
Appreciative listening ... it's a good feeling.
A FREE Audio Tape for YOU!
Because Ray Speaks ... it is expected he'll have audio and video tapes.
Why? To share with speakers bureaus, meeting planners and others interested in what he may have to say. So "yes", there is an audio tape. And he'll be happy to send you a copy. FREE. No strings attached.
The tape is a selection from several speaking gigs. A few case histories, some "how to..." ideas. And such. About an hour's worth of chatter ... some of it actually very entertaining!
If you'd like your very own copy, send an E-mail to ...
Oh, when you have a need for a speaker, and feel a demo video tape could be valuable to you, just ask for a copy. Not much use for video these days - with the Web - still, we'll be happy to forward one to you. Just ask.
Ray is riding his Harley 15,000 miles in
46 days - around the outer edge of the 48 USA States, into Canada
- and back. With some back & forth mixed in.
Above, Ray arrives in Key West, Florida
... at the southern most point of the continental USA ... 90 miles
from Havana, Cuba!