Movie Lessons: Ocean's Eleven teaches us the importance of listening

It is time for another round of movie lessons. This week I will draw from Ocean’s Eleven. There are many things to learn from this movie about putting together the right team (which I may come back to later), but I wanted to focus on listening. I love the scene when Rusty (Brad Pitt) is teaching the celebs how to play cards – “ALL REDS”. He then goes to the bar and the bartender asks “How’s the game going?” The next exchange reminds us of the importance of listening. Check it out below at the 1:38 mark.

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This art/skill has always been paramount to communication.  We are in a war for our attention and sometimes it is difficult to hear because of all the noise. To grow your business and any other relationship we must get better at listening. When we listen to what our customers and prospects say and don’t say (sometimes more important) we can then create great client experiences.  Zappos and Apple have done a great job of this. GM didn’t.

Here are a few tips for better listening that I’ve learned.

1. Listening is active

Don’t just sit there. Ask questions. This lets people know you are engaged. I heard the stories of Chevy Volt at SXSW having great conversations with folks, asking and answering questions.

2. Lean in

When face to face it is always best to lean towards the person speaking. This is a sign of attention. Digitally, I think this accomplished by going to where the conversations are. It could be Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, YouTube, Blog comments, or any number of locations your audience hangs out.

3. Don’t wait to talk

I’ve been guilty of this. Instead of taking in what the speaker was saying I wanted to chime in with thoughts.  Let’s not shove our agenda down someone’s throat in response to what they say. If we absorb what we hear and respond in a way that focuses on them, we will build trust.

Listening is not a talent. It can be learned.

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