Judith E. Glaser, noted author of seven books and the founder and CEO of Benchmark Communications, is an organizational anthropologist focused on “Conversational Intelligence.”
We now know from neuroscientific research how the brain opens up or closes down during conversations. We know from our own personal experience, that when we work with others as ‘peers’ and our ‘peers are open to listening to connect, the quality of our conversations elevates. In addition, our ability to generate new ideas, especially really different and radically new ideas, elevates, and we trust that we will not be rejected, or diminished or judged.
For those of us operating in creative industries, it’s essential to develop a culture that allows for everyone to be genuinely heard. Company leaders must encourage people to speak up, which means leaders must also create organizational fearlessness. That is, it must be safe to oppose the prevailing winds, regardless of their force.
It sounds simple, but deep listening is a skill that’s missing from so many of our day-to-day conversations at work, with friends and family, and online. To me, it’s important that we address this missing piece in almost all content marketing plans. Brands and their agency partners are so wrapped up in what they need to say, they forget to pause, to breathe and to allow for other voices to be heard. I might add, hearing is not an end in itself. We need to hear from our audiences and then apply what we’ve learned to our operations. Otherwise, it’s listening for listening’s sake, and that’s the kind of false politeness that can come nowhere near a thriving brand.
Is it possible for marketers learn to quiet their “mind?” Yes! It means developing empathy for the audience members, or customers, as the case may be. When a company’s leadership team honestly values and consistently promotes empathy inside the organization, it naturally extends to the brand. Customer interactions can be dramatically improved, and loyalty earned through the company’s ability to nurture staff so they can, in turn, extend themselves to others with compassion, heart, and grace. It sounds like I am advocating for a new form of marketing yoga, but I think it’s simpler than that.
In marketing terms, treating people well means shining truth on the product or service. You can imagine how things fly off the rails when the product or service isn’t what it claims to be. When a company fabricates a story, instead of finding the real stories inherent to the brand, it treats people poorly, not well. “Treat people well and they come back for more” means finding the core truths about your product or service and helping people to see how it serves their best interets, not yours. When you get this alignment just right, your own best interests will also be served.