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Sorry – I wasn’t listening…

“I only have to be told twice; once.”

                                                                 Adam Katzenmeyer   

A very wise and profound statement, don’t you think?  In one, respectful sentence, Adam: (A) admitted he was not listening, (B) avoided faking it, or worse, arguing that he was listening when he actually wasn’t, and (C) acknowledged a commitment to listen, going forward.  Profound! 

Adam is a colleague of mine and this is an excerpt from a conversation he was having with one of our clients.  It is an example of lessons I often learn in my job that apply to my life.  One of the extra benefits of being a sales professional – I meet many wise and profound people. Occasionally, their profound statements hit me over the head like a 2×4; other times, the profundity is absorbed more subconsciously.  

Some advice stays top of mind with me each day; for instance, “Don’t be stupid.” Wisdom I picked from my friend and former colleague, Nick Ryder, in the late 1980s.   He and a sales support person from our company had just returned from a client meeting that didn’t go well.  His sales support person had argued with the client, which cost Nick the deal.  Afterwards, when she asked Nick what she should have done different and how she could improve in the future, he offered those three, profound words.  I try to live by them, too (although some days I probably need the 2×4). 

In 1979, my very first year in sales, I remember seeking advice from Rob Denkewalter (my first sales mentor).  I was constantly nervous when presenting to prospective customers.  His wisdom?  “Gary, for your next presentation, don’t wear any underwear.  You will be so self-conscious in front of the prospect that you won’t even think about getting nervous.”  Profound!  But I digress… 

Back to listening – have you ever found yourself in a disagreement with someone, perhaps even an argument, only to realize that you had actually mis-listened and the other person was right all along?  Did you quickly admit your mistake?  Did you ignore it and continue to argue?  Did you retreat to that neutral, face-saving place called a “misunderstanding”?  

I can get so busy multi-tasking at times that I just don’t listen.  (Drives my wife crazy when I’m present – but not present!)  Does that ever happen to you?  When it does, sometimes I can become defensive or I try to hide my mistake.  Not very wise I suppose.  It would be better to follow Adam’s advice, yes?  Of course, first I would need to become more comfortable with my mistake-making.  Do you think it’s pride that makes it hard to simply admit being wrong? 

I don’t think I’m alone with this affliction, though.  I have seen others argue, defend, and attempt to deflect the blame of being wrong almost to the point of absurdity before admitting that they simply weren’t listening.  In most of these instances, the matter was not of great importance to the other person.  But as the debate rages on, the level of irritation ultimately rises, true?  We might all agree that it is often much easier, and certainly more appropriate, to just apologize for not being present, and respectfully commit to being present going forward. 

But no one is perfect.  And if Adam’s profound wisdom needs further, more scientifically oriented reinforcement, Russell Kay offers us Grabel’s Law: 

Two is not equal to three – not even for very large values of two. 

                                                                  GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please check it out Subscribe.

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3 Comments


  1. Keydren
    Sep 13, 2011

    Yo, good lokoin out! Gonna make it work now.


  2. Maisyn
    Sep 14, 2011

    I love reading these arictles because they’re short but informative.


  3. Jospeh Bienek
    Oct 07, 2011

    I’m still learning from you, but I’m trying to reach my goals. I definitely liked reading everything that is posted on your blog.Keep the posts coming. I loved it!

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