“Oliver was a thinker. He was a man of few biases, He was seldom tempted to prove anything to himself or others; his tool for learning was the tool of discovery. And, if he heard or read or even thought something that did not logically conclude from preceding statements his brain would stop dead in its tracks.

‘What?’ he’d say to himself, ‘that can’t be right’ and without even having to test the idea his brain would present an instant YouTube of information whizzing before his inner vision on mega-fast-forward and satisfied, he’d then move on to the next thing, unless of course his discovery was important enough to stop for a moment and commit to the three by five Wexford memo pad in his shirt pocket.  

Oliver’s thinking skills appeared almost immediately. he spoke before he walked. began his career in sales and customer service in the seventies and was a very fast learner. Today his listening and reasoning skills serve him well in his work; Oliver is a very successful Customer Service Representative. His careful attention to listening well and for asking the right discovery questions has provided him with a great income and an excellent reputation among his peers. But one day he was surprised with something for which he had no answer. He had listened carefully. He found an opening and asked a few YES questions and then made a suggestion to the client whose spontaneous reply  was ‘Why?’.

Oliver squirmed and fidgeted, he hemmed and he hawed and as he struggled for to regain control of his faculties he discovered that he was talking to himself.”

From Leadership: A Love Story. By Lee Broom.


Talking to ourselves can sometimes be an impediment to success; it can also be an excellent tool for success. But never should it be a part of our conversation with a prospect. And never, ever will a successful CSR ask a prospect or a client “Why” about anything.

The same heed must be taken when the person on the other end of the line asks “Why”. Oliver, realized later than he could have easily segued into responses explaining “How”, “What”, even “Who”, “Where” or “When”.

We like to think that today we are more sophisticated than the Olivers of decades past with our iPads and smart phones but the real tools are the ones we carry between our ears. We may have a slightly larger vocabulary to accommodate our electronic toys but the way we talk with others and the respect that is necessary for our daily transactions is as old as language itself.

Unless you’re going fishing and really do need a can of worms, Listen, Investigate and Learn.


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