The art of listening

October 19th, 2016 18:33 by Phil Kendon

This week I had a revelation of the importance of working hard to understand the expectations and requirements of a client through the art of listening.

After a number of email exchanges and sharing of documents, I thought I had a fairly good idea of where to go with the assigned writing brief for a new client. We had a Skype call scheduled for early in the week, which I thought would not add much value to the process, but I went through with it anyway. I am so glad I did!

In that 1 hour conversation, so many tiny details emerged that made a significant difference to the approach I took when I wrote the article:

  • I learned a lot more about the target audience than I had previously realized.
  • I learned something about the structure of the article, which was a game-changer in terms of how well it was accepted.
  • I learned about the relationship between my client and their client, which helped me understand what my client was trying to achieve.
  • I learned about what level of detail would be helpful in terms of technical content.

All in all, I think I probably would have failed horribly in the content I produced were it not for that very important Skype conversation that I initially thought was a waste of time.

It is true in every area of life that we have to work hard at communication. We carry our own biases and perceptions about what we think might be most effective. We are influenced by our experience and past relationships with other clients. All of these can be good things ... but not if they keep us from learning exactly what our current client expects from us.

I was reminded again this week about how important the art of listening is and I am grateful for the reminder because I believe it will make me a better writer every time!