“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”

– Ram Dass

Every second you are talking in a sales conversation is a second you are not listening to your customer. You are listening to yourself. Use words sparingly, returning to “input mode” as quickly as possible, giving yourself the chance to be alert and notice things that can drive your reactions.

I’m always impressed by how infrequently stage improvisers interrupt each other.  One reason for this is that these actors are much more focused on listening and observing than on talking. Their mouths wait for their ears and eyes, and this extra focus on input makes it easier for them to exchange the focus of the scene between themselves.

Contrast this with business meetings where people are more interested in getting their points out than they are interested in listening to others. People are constantly starting sentences in the middle of other people’s sentences, and people are not alert to cues from colleagues that could help communication.

Sell like the stage improviser, not like that obnoxious guy you work with who is always interrupting people in meetings. The quieter you become, the more you can hear.


  • Clemens Rettich
    Oct 01, 2010 - 12:13 pm

    So right Steve…

    Great listening also has enlightened self-interest at its heart. In improve the goal is to move the scene forward, knowing just when to add value to that process can only happen when you are listening. Great listening and great timing are inseparable.

    When you listen well, your contribution makes sense. When you just shoot off your mouth, you come across as tone-deaf. Nothing turns of people (including your customers) faster.

    Great post…. again!

  • Steve Yastrow
    Oct 03, 2010 - 20:14 pm

    Thanks Clemens. Thank you for listening! (I’m listening back)

Leave A Reply