Does Anyone Listen Anymore?

*click above to see larger image of  “Active Listening” cartoon

Ever write a blog post and get no comments?  Or send out a Twitter and get no answer to your question? Or have you attended a class/seminar/conference and hear the speaker ask for feedback/questions/input, only to have the audience sit quiet as field mice?

How about this.  Do you read blog posts or just skim them?  To you engage people in conversation while really far away thinking of the ten things you were supposed to have done ten minutes ago?  Do you listen, do people listen to you?

In this new media world, the paradigm of listening has changed.  In the past, listening was hearing what people had to say and seeking to understand what they said.  Today “listening” can be characterized as following Twitter, reading Facebook updates, setting Google alerts for topics that interest you in addition to our actual conversations.

I know someone who is a great multi-tasker.  This person can text, email, read websites, talk on the speaker phone and open the mail all at once.  But at times this person does not catch what the text is saying, the point of the website,  or remember the take aways from the phone call.  Unfortunately this person is me.

For someone who has stood up before class after class (in my corporate training days) teaching people the importance of listening I often fail as bad as the people I notice that are not listening.  The issue is this (for all of us), in a world that seems to move faster and faster the need for us to listen is greater and greater.  We simply do not have time not to listen.

Listening involves hearing (whether it is in print or in person) what the sender is saying, understanding the message and then interpreting the message (is it accurate?,  does it make sense?, is it believable?, etc…).  Listening challenges occur right at the front of the process, hearing.

Want to be more effective?  Want to get more done?  Want to communicate better?  Then work hard at being a good listener (let me tell you from experience, good listeners are hard to come by).   Show me an extremely successful person with the tag “great people skills” and I will guarantee, they are good at listening.

Want to be a better listener?  Here are some tips to help you;

  • Pay attention to the person who is speaking.
  • Focus.  Do not try to guess what the person is going to say next or let your mind wander.  Focus on the message.
  • Let the speaker finish.  Most people end what they are saying with “the point” or a summary, if you cut them off you may not have full understanding.
  • Resist the urge to develop a response while the speaker is talking.  Finish listening.  Your response will be better.
  • Listen for the main idea.  What is the point of the message?
  • Ask questions to gain understanding (after the speaker is finished).
  • Give feedback once you fully understand.

Finding a good listener is so rare that you will stand out from the crowd and probably realize many good side benefits along the way by being one.

Now I am One of the Cool Kids

Everyone else is doing it so I did too, just for fun.  I went to Paste Magazine’s “Obamicon Me” website, uploaded a pic and made myself a poster.  Ok, it was fun for ten minutes.

marklinderdotcom

Junk Mail from Sarah Palin!

Ok, maybe with all in inauguration celebrations going on across the country, something that would normally not be noticed, got noticed.  My junk mail.

The day they swore in our new President, I received the following in my mailbox.

Junk Mail from Sarah!

Yes that’s right.  A letter from the Office of the Governor of Alaska asking me to take a trip to her great state.

Now at first I scoffed this letter off then I realized how brilliant this may be.  Now, please do not misunderstand what I am about to say.  This is not political commentary in any way, just some observations.

  • The timing of the letter to land in mail boxes (you may have received one) the day of the inauguration was brilliant.  In Marketing 101 we learned that certain marketing activities work because they have a “halo effect“.  In other words, when something positive is occurring then often people link that positive to another thing.  There is no question that our new President is very popular right now and receiving a solicitation from another popular political figure can in fact, make it more positive.
  • The letter took advantage of the sender’s new season of popularity.  A few month’s ago, many were hard pressed to even know the name of the Governor of Alaska, now like her or not, we all know her name.  The name recognition alone most likely gave the solicitation a very high “open and read” rate, probably far above the other junk mail in your box.
  • If you are a fan of Sarah, you probably welcomed the email.
  • The tactics of the email, the purpose and the timing was guerrilla like.  Great impact from a low cost piece of direct mail.

Now we all can’t be the Governor of Alaska and former candidate for Vice-President but there are some lessons we can learn here;

  • If you do direct mail, email campaigns or any other marketing, find a way to break through the clutter.
  • Take advantage of opportunities when they appear, look for great ways to time events and create a “halo effect.”
  • Free never hurts.  People historically respond better to free than anything.
  • Take advantage of your brand or name recognition whenever possible.

Yeah, as odd as it was to get my junk mail from Sarah, it did bring a smile to my face.

Yelp Reviewer Faces Legal Issues

yelp-home-page

One of the cool things about having a phone that can get on-line is going to sites like Yelp.  For those that have never used Yelp on your phone, let me quickly explain.  Go to Yelp, put in your location, put in what you are looking for (i.e. tacos) and up will pop locations that have tacos sorted by their ratings!  Very cool.  If you use Yelp on your computer you can rate, review and talk about the good and “not so good” in your area.   It is a powerful tool that creates amazing word of mouth marketing at the most organic level, the end user.  If you are a business owner, you should be aware of Yelp and keep an eye on the site to see what people think about you.  And unless you have amazing business practices, from time to time reviews will be negative.

That is exactly what happened as  one Yelp reviewer said something negative about a local chiropractor.  Here is the quote:

“I don’t think good business means charging people whatever you feel like hoping they’ll pay without a fuss. Especially considering that I found a much better, honest chiropractor.”

The chiropractor did not like what he read and sued the reviewer Christopher Norberg over the comment.

Now, not being one to judge what is the law and not the law, and whether the reviewer was right or wrong, I can tell you this; the internet community is watching very carefully what happens in this case.  Norberg’s attorney, Michael Blacksburg went on to say  “This strikes at the heart of Yelp’s business model and other Web sites that provide a bulletin board for people to state what they think of businesses in their community. This is clearly Christopher Norberg’s version of conversations with the doctor relating to a billing dispute and his opinion of how the doctor was behaving. This is clear opinion that falls squarely within constitutionally protected speech.”

So I guess what Mom always told us was good advice, “if you have nothing good to say about someone don’t say anything at all.”  Or at least in cyberspace, be very careful how you say it.  Opinion is protected by libel law but just because you declare a statement as opinion it does not necessarily make it one.  If you are a blogger, tweeter, Yelp reviewer or just a commenter on forums and boards you should probably take a peek at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s guidelines for blogger’s and web user’s  regarding Online Defamation Law.

electronic-frontier-foundation-legal-guide-for-bloggers

Just like you, I see negative posts all the time.  Are they opinion or a statement of fact?  Sometimes it is hard to tell.   Just remember, count to ten before you post that flaming review/comment and keep yourself out of court.

Phishers Attack Twitter

Guess what, the phishers have hit Twitter.  And the impact it has had on the service has reached around the globe.  So if you see an update in your Twitter stream that says something like “Check out this funny blog about you”  if clicked (but please don’t) you will be taken to what looks like the Twitter sign in page.  But please note the address bar (see below);

twitter-phish

As you can see, it is not twitter.com but rather a different address page.  The intent here is to take your password and hopefully use it enter other sites you visit and to fill up your “fake twitter” with spam like “I won an iphone! come see how here” or “Somehow your picture ended up on this site” and once you click on the url’s in the fake stream, here come the cookies, spy-ware and more as the phisher tries to find out where your accounts are.  And to make things worse, the phishers may use your password and identity to send spam and malware to your friends.

So, do yourself a favor and go change your password.  Twitter is aware of the phising and you will find at the top of your Twitter home “Warning! Don’t sign in to fake Twitter.com from a DM”, you will also find a link where Twitter will tell you that they are already changing the passwords of those that have unwittingly signed in.  In a world of multitasking it is not a shock to hear about someone signing back into Twitter without realizing they are on a phishing site while talking on the phone, keeping up with IM’s/DM’s, reading emails, shuffling papers or just not paying attention.  This is the busy world where the phishers live and hope for.

I guess I am not surprised, it had to happen eventually.  The lessons to learn here are:

  • change your passwords often
  • have different passwords for different sites/accounts
  • have good firewall/virus/spyware/phishing protection on your computer and keep them up to date
  • Only open attachments you expect or know what they contain
  • Never enter personal information in a “pop up box”
  • Be suspicious of anyone who contacts you and asks for personal information
  • Don’t click on links that ask for personal information
  • Whether a victim or not, report phishing to Fraud.org

So be careful, take a moment and stay out the phish pond.