The Long and Short of it – Listen, Damn It!

I have heard many professionals utter this most confusing questions, “Why do people hire me, only to ignore the advice I offer?” When clients hire professionals for their expertise, is it not a reasonable assumption that said clients will listen to the advice given? After all, why hire an expert, professional if you aren’t going to listen and heed their advice and counsel? Few people would go to a doctor or lawyer only to ignore their advice, would they?

When I hire a professional, I do so because they know more about the relevant subject matter than I do. I do so because they will save me time and money, give me advice and counsel I wouldn’t be able to obtain on my own, and help make my life less stressful. I only hire professionals I can talk with, those who will listen to my concerns and will give me honest feedback, and those who will make sure I am happy with the outcome we’ve agreed upon from the outset. True professionals are happy to fully discuss the process ahead of time, to make sure the client understands all aspects before the project begins and answer any questions completely and honestly. And because I only hire professionals I can trust, I take the advice given.

So, why would someone hire a professional and not listen? I imagine it has more to do with the client and less to do with the professional. After all, no professional who isn’t being professional will last in their profession. But a client who isn’t listening will most likely just keep on not listening. Some people just like to be in control, or more accurately, hate (or are afraid of) not being in control. In my practice, I run across that sometimes, and more often than not, the client has a lack of understanding about control, what it is and isn’t, and how it relates to the process. There is no reason for me to take their desire for control personally, because it has nothing to do with me. It’s all about their needs and their fears, so the best way for me to help them is to help them better understand themselves, to see past the illusions of quo_edickinsontheir beliefs and to uncover the true potential they possess.

When someone has a need to be in control, there is a sense of “lack” in some way, and they think that by being in control, it somehow gives them power over their circumstance and that they can then determine the outcome to their benefit. Theproblem is that they will continue to perpetuate their core belief, which is based on “lack,” so they will keep getting disappointed and will want to blame anyone and anything but themselves, which is why they won’t listen to the professionals. Sounds like a vicious cycle, perhaps, but it is of their own making. How do you, as a professional, help them? Be honest, direct, and refuse to participate in their drama while always being compassionate. They, like each of us, is doing the best they can.

What if you could help them believe that they were really okay, worthy, and good enough? What if you could help them see that they had chosen the perfect professional, expert for them and for the task at hand, and that because of their wise choice to hire you, they were miles ahead of the competition (whoever that might be)? Maybe then they’d think they really were in control, and you were only following their lead by giving them your expert advice. See how smart you are? How cool is that?

2 responses to “The Long and Short of it – Listen, Damn It!

  1. Hi, Karl… I understand what you are saying. Many times I am hired by people and they don’t seem to be willing to listen to the advice that I give them. But it is also true of me, as well. I, also, like to think that I work with the “best”. But I know that sometimes I don’t listen either. It is easy to dismiss an idea that is “strange” or “out of the norm”. About a year and a half ago I was in need of advice on how to handle a rather unusual situation. In my search for help I ran across a gentleman that I thought could help. We discussed many things over a period of several months. I was exposed to many new ideas and concepts. At the time, I thought they were rather “far out”. The meeting would end and then I would think about it. I would read up on what had been discussed and I would think about it for a long time afterwards. I am sure the gentleman had to wonder if I was listening. I am also sure that I never thanked him properly for his assistance. One of these days, I am going to contact that gentleman and tell him that I was actually listening and that he was a great help to me. I am going to tell him that I am still listening to the things he said and trying to comprehend and adapt. Many things have happened to me since that time, but I still am trying to listen to those pieces of advice. I carry them with me and listen to them again and again in my mind.

    So….if you don’t mind, I would like to add a little something to your article. Sometimes it is not that we do not listen. It is more a matter of being slow at listening. It just takes a while to sink in to some people. We need to keep an open mind as well as listen. To you I say…”keep talking, and we will try to listen, damn it!”

    • Thank you, Janie, for your thoughtful and thorough comment. I do believe that people “get it when they get it.” Sometimes, they even hear without realizing; after thoughts and ideas percolate, they may “get it” without realizing that they have. And as you said so wisely, “Sometimes it takes a while to sink in….” My post was more about people who hire professionals like Realtors®, yet essentially ignore their expert advice.
      Wishing you all the best, Karl

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