I met my cousin near Washington DC for supper. We entered the restaurant and the greeter showed us to our table and let us know that Angela would be our server. Angela would be with us momentarily. A few seconds later a young lady approached our table. As she was walking our way I smiled a big smile and said, “Hi Angela, how are you this evening?”
The young woman stopped. She looked quizzically, then said, “Do you I know you? Have you been here before?” Then she asked, “Have you been at another restaurant I where I work?” And then came the one I usually get when I do this, “Do you know my parents?”
I apologetically stated, “I am so sorry. I didn’t realize I called you by name. I am so sorry. Ever since I was a child I’ve had the ability to look at someone and know their name. I get an immediate impression and it’s 99% accurate. When you approached the table the impression was so strong that I called you by name and didn’t even realize it. If I embarrassed you, please forget it.”
Angela said with amazement, “That’s fantastic, I’ve never met anyone who could do that!” My cousin, who has known me all his life responded, “I didn’t know you could do that. That’s fantastic. Why didn’t you ever tell me you had this power?”
I downplayed it as much as I could. I asked if they would just forget about it. “This time was an accident. Could we just forget it and go on with the meal.”
We did and it was an enjoyable meal with excellent service. I drink decaf coffee and my cup never got less than half empty. Angela made sure everything was fine. She refreshed our water; brought us more bread and butter – whatever we needed, or she thought we needed.
When we paid for the meal, Angela told us what a pleasure it was to serve us. She said if we were ever in the area again please come back and ask for her by name. Angela said she’d never met anyone like me.
So now it was my confession time. “Angela, you need to know that I don’t have any special powers or insights. Sarah, the greeter, said our server would be Angela. That’s how I knew your name. That’s all.”
Angela’s response, “No. No. You can do it. I know you can do it.”
My cousin chimed in, “You can do it. You said you don’t like to draw attention to it and now you’re just trying to cover it up. You really can do it.” Angela continued to nod in agreement.
After a few minutes of arguing I finally put my foot down. I stated emphatically the only way I knew Angela’s name was because the greeter had told us. “End of story.” I said. “Sarah said our server would be Angela. When you approached the table I said your name because Sarah had told us.”
My cousin’s response, “I didn’t hear her say that!”
My response, “You weren’t listening.”
A major factor in leadership is listening. Too many leaders just want to be listened to, but great leaders develop the skill of listening. Good listening is more than just waiting your turn or thinking about your response while someone else is finishing their statement. Good listening is paying attention to the speaker and making sure you hear what they are saying. We filter out what we don’t think is important: what the greeter says, what the store clerk offers, the flight attendant’s instructions, the cab driver’s conversation. There are too many to mention. But it also includes our co-workers, friends and family.
Great leaders understand it’s more important to listen than to talk.
Points to Ponder –
Am I a good listener? Would the people around me the most say I’m a good listener?
Have I taken a class, read a book or listened to a CD on how to improve my listening ability?
What’s the difference between hearing and listening?
Copyright 2013 LeadersBridge