“The greatest compliment that was ever paid to me was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” – Henry David Thoreau
The frequency with which we do things in an inattentive manner in our daily life is simply astonishing. From driving a car to interacting with a client or a prospect, way too often we are on auto-pilot, going through the motions but not being present. The consequences of this inattentiveness are way too dangerous to be quickly dismissed.
Attentiveness is generally defined as staying in the present or mindfulness. It is paying full attention to what is at hand—the note we are writing, the coffee we are sipping, the person we are talking to, whatever is around us as we move through our day. A client meeting, talking on the phone to a friend, shopping at the supermarket are perfect opportunities for us to test our ability to be mindful.
Mindfulness is something that we all possess and need to ensure our survival. However, its nature is highly elusive. As we sit down with a prospect, completely determined to convert her into a new client, despite our best efforts, our ability to mindfully listen to her can disappear in an instant. It takes a fraction of a second for our mind to lose its focus and swiftly engage in worries, speculations, projections and fantasies about the future.
To practice mindfulness you do not have to drastically change your life. You will continue to perform your daily activities and chores — however, you will carry them out with a different level of awareness. That heightened degree of awareness will trigger some changes in your behavior. You will not change who you are, but you will become more fully present with every situation. As a consequence, you will be able to better observe your thoughts, feelings, and preferences.
Mindfulness makes us more sensitive to the present moment. It generates an energy that empowers us to actively notice new things, take advantage of opportunities as they manifest, and be able to produce more positive outcomes.
Life is nothing but a sequence of moments. Consequently, the more we focus our attention to make each moment matter, the more our life will matter. During a meeting, do not let your mind race forward worrying or engaging in speculation about the meaning of the short pause your client made while answering your question. Rather, just notice it, acknowledge it in your mind and come back to the present, to the conversation, to her.
A Magnetic and Creative Force
Listening mindfully is one of the hardest things for a human being to master. Many of us experience unconscious barriers to good listening that prevent us from clearly recognizing when we are not listening. Mindful listening is a magnetic and creative force. When people listen to what we say, we experience a satisfying expansion and become highly creative. It is this creative force that actually enables ideas to spring within us and come to life. We experience it countless times but, regrettably, we easily forget. One of the most valuable rewards of listening in a mindful manner is the opportunity we get to learn something we might not know. Conscientiously listening to your clients enables you to gather good intelligence about what they worry and care about, what motivates them and, ultimately, why they work with you — and what they really “want” from you.
By listening mindfully, your will be able to facilitate their pursuit for financial freedom, better address their demands, and even dispel some of their financial fears. During a client meeting, pose a question, such as “What are the most important challenges our firm has helped you successfully address?” Then, commit yourself to mindfully listen to every word your client will say. Her answer may yield valuable information, some of which she may have mentioned during past conversations, but because you were on auto-pilot…you missed.
The ultimate goal of mindful listening is simply to listen—nothing more and nothing less. Focusing attention and activity on what we are doing in the immediate moment, whole-heartedly without getting side-tracked by premature ideas and projections of future personal gain, which incidentally are not pertinent to the present moment and may or may not happen in the future. When you are completely “present” in that way, each activity becomes the most important activity you can perform for your highest and greatest good and that of your clients.
As always, I welcome comments and questions.
i-Impact Group Inc.