Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Guest Blogger - Matt Scherer: "Observe & Listen"

I asked for volunteers on Twitter to be guest bloggers on The Some Assembly Required Blog. Wow, some great people stepped forward to share their thoughts, ideas and pontifications.

Today's Guest Blogger is Matt Scherer. Matt has been working as a public affairs and communications professional for over 30 years, including 20 years in the Air Force. You should read his blog "So What Makes Matt Scherer Tick?"

Observe & Listen

by Matt Scherer

Last week, I went to a morning breakfast meeting where I ran into some longtime friends that I haven’t seen for nearly two months. My friend and I were in the midst of a deep conversation when two sales professionals came up to interrupt our chat to sell us their services.

At the time, I had used their product and services for clients. My friend, a technical type for one of the major TV stations, wasn’t a customer. Still, they barged into a conversation without listening.

I am amazed by some people’s lack of manners.

Obviously, these 20-something marketing types were not attending to the signals I was sending. My friend and I had broken the traditional American space of speaking to each other at a normal three feet and were close to 18 inches so we could talk to each other.

To most, it should have been obvious that were having an earnest conversation.

Had these people taken a couple of seconds to observe what we were communicating with our body language before trying to introduce themselves, I would have been nice enough to stop what I was doing to allow them to join their conversation.

Yet,they didn’t get the signal, and they sure aren’t going to get more of my business.

And, there is another colleague of mine who will go on and on about his business accomplishments. He once spent 45 minutes of my valuable time as I was driving to tell me about his latest successes. I was unable to get a word in return so I put him on my cell phone speaker and uttered an occasional “Great.” Despite my lack of feedback, he kept talking.

Now, when he calls, I put him into my voice mail. I don’t have time for someone who want allow me to talk, even just a little.

As a longtime communications professional, I am amazed by the number of people who don’t pay attention to these communication signals.

To me, if there is one skill that most of us can improve upon in networking, it’s the art of listening to others.

As a former Toastmaster (, I learned how to become a more effective listener. Through four years of meetings, I learned how to improve this critical skill. This non-profit organization provides a great forum for teaching people how to really pay attention to others in every meeting.

For anyone who wants to build a network, it’s important to focus on your listening skills. The “peeps” in your network will value you when they realize that you’re listening and they’ll be glad to share more with you, especially if they believe you’re going to listen to them more effectively.

Regardless of what you do in life, Toastmasters is a good investment of time and effort. The listening skill sets that are developed through this non-profit program will make you a better communicator and a very effective networker.

*****Thom's Two-Cents: Toastmasters was the best move I ever made in my career. I highly suggest that everyone select a local TM Club and participate actively for one year. You will never regret it.

Have A Great Day


1 comment:

Susan Guarneri said...

Hi Matt - This is great advice about communicating. As with any other habit, we get into "ruts" about how we communicate. Maybe it's time for many of us to break the cycle and practice observing first. Then PROCESS what we are seeing to make sense of the entire communication (visual, audio, and kinesthetic cues). BTW, I recommend Toastmasters highly. Polishing your communications skills is no longer optional if you are a job seeker.