When we were developing our core values, we experienced a few lightbulb moments. One of those moments happened when we landed on “Ask to Listen” as a value that is core to who we are as a brand. As with all six of our core values, this one has two parts. There’s the asking part and the listening part. We call it the Ask to Listen Loop.
Let’s unpack the Loop quickly here so you can apply it in your own business…
The asking begins when we seek permission to engage a client with questions. Gaining that permission is important. If we’re going to provide solid marketing advice to a business, we need to probe a little bit. That word “probe” is uncomfortable. It immediately stirs up thoughts of being poked or prodded and of UFO encounters, including tales of being “probed by the aliens.” The probing is what leads to insights, but asking for permission is key.
The other side of asking is tied to curiosity. We all know people who are really good at asking curious questions. They are fun to have conversations with because they ask things that help us think bigger. “How can you use that experience to get better moving forward?” “What gets you most excited about that today?” “Where do you see this landing a year from now?” “What’s holding you back?” These opened ended, curious questions help us dream, develop our vision, and set goals – which is why we use questions like this with clients almost every day.
There’s one thing people miss, though, when they’re asking curious questions.
Curious questions are only powerful if we include the second part of that core value: Listen.
We live in a culture where people love to talk about themselves. Active listening is a lost art, and instead, our listening today is often focused more on what we’re going to say next than what the person we’re talking to is really telling us. True listening, where we truly hear what people are communicating, can be challenging. But, when we slow ourselves down and focus on what another individual is saying (and often not saying), it positions us to ask more curious questions.
We call this the Ask to Listen Loop, and it is magic.
Ask curious questions. Listen. Ask more curious questions. Listen some more.
This isn’t to say all we do is ask questions and listen. We do eventually get to a point where we can share our own experiences, bring advice, and use our expertise to guide those in our circle. That said, we are careful not to bring in the experiences, advice, and guidance until we know what direction our clients want to go.
It all begins with asking to listen.
Practice the Ask to Listen Loop and see what happens. We can confidently say that if you’re not already practicing this, it will change your conversations and your results.