THE BLOG
08/13/2015 11:33 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The High Price You Pay for This 'Lost' Skill

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How many times have you left a meeting or came off a conference call wondering what the heck just happened? You shake your head in disbelief because it's pretty obvious that while everyone was talking, well, very few, if any people were really listening.

Don't you find it mind-boggling with all the means we have today to communicate, i.e., texting, FB messaging, skyping, tweeting -- and the list seems endless, we have never before been so disconnected from each other? What is missing in modern society, in both our professional and personal life, is a "lost" skill -- without which no communication takes place. The absence of this skill has resulted in the estrangement of companies from their employees and their clients, resulting in a loss of dollars that cannot always be calculated, but can be staggering nonetheless.

The "lost" skill I'm referring to is the ability to actively listen. While modern technology has exponentially increased our ability to communicate in some ways, it seems to have crippled our ability to actively listen -- perhaps the most essential component of effective communication. Without active listening, your message falls on deaf ears, resulting in a disconnect of people from each other.

The Coca-Cola Company Disaster

Here's an example of the tremendously high price The Coca Cola Company once paid for not actively listening to their clients. (Incidentally, most failed marketing campaigns in business are due to the fact that nobody was really listening to what the customer/client wanted.) On April 23, 1985, The Coca-Cola Company rolled out the "new Coke" product campaign, which contained the first formula product change in a century. The campaign was a disaster and is considered by some to be the greatest marketing failure of all time! The fiasco ended a few months later with a return of the "old" Coca-Cola product.

What happened here?

Many explanations have been given for the "new Coke" product roll out disaster but one explanation seems to envelope them all -- no one was really listening to the customer. If the company were really listening to their consumer they would have known how much these customers not only loved Coke but how loyal and passionate they were about this product -- and they would have never tampered with such a beloved product. In spite of the millions of dollars spent on market research focus groups, The Coca Cola Company was not actively listening to their consumer.

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you can have an enviable product or service -- but if you are not actively listening to your clients, it won't be too long before you are disconnected from them and you will be out of business.

As a corporation, you can spend trillions of dollars doing market research -- but if you are not listening to your clients, your money will be ill spent

The important benefits you will gain from being an active listener is to be engaged and truly connected to your clients. This connection will allow you to hear not only what is being said, but what is not being said -- which is sometimes much more important than hearing the spoken word.

Therefore, actively listen to your customers, clients, employees and others in your life. It will significantly increase your ability to connect with them -- and communicate in a truly effective manner. The goal of all communication is to connect -- and the goal of all business is to connect with their consumers and clients -- practice the lost skill of active listening and watch your revenue soar!