What it Means to Listen

Questioning things is very important to gain more understanding. This applies to both sides of a question, asking and answering. In my experience, many people focus on getting answers without caring why they are correct. Memorizing things and being stuck in your ways leads to statements like, “You can’t do that because it just isn’t done that way.” In effect, people become close-minded to true discussion.

The other day, a bank representative called me and mentioned I should open a savings account. Now, most people who get this call would either make some excuse to hang up on the person. However, I gave the person a run by asking a very simple question. “I have a personal current account and a business current account, what can I do with a savings account that I cannot do with a current account?” The representative presumably looked at her sheet of answers and listed off benefits of a savings account, but none of them were better than the current account alternative. This gave me the impression that she didn’t really listen to my question, her only interest was selling me on the savings account. I repeated my question over and over because I truly wanted to understand what I was buying. Ineffective answer after another by the representative made her frustrated enough to just hang up on me. About a week later, I found out after calling the bank that there was an account that was better for me than the one that I had and it wasn’t the savings account that the representative had mentioned. It would have been easy if the representative really listened to my question and found a solution for me rather than just assuming I was argumentative. She might not have hit her quota of savings account opens with me, but at least she would have given me a great impression that this particular bank actually tries to listen to their customers.

Many times, people get stuck in their ways and don’t want to listen to questions. More often than not, this is a roadblock to progress. Truly understanding why things are the way they are begins with questions. On the other side, people should be confident in their opinions enough to field questions and respond accordingly. Whether an opinion is right or wrong, truly understanding what is being inquired, honestly thinking about it and responding, will lead to better ideas.

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