Listen with Coffee

November 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Good morning Coach!  I am ready for the next lesson,”  Jake remarked as he approached me at the cafe.  “Why are we meeting here?”

“Nothing.  Aside from I really like their coffee, change of environment I guess.  We can go to the office if you want,”  I quipped after taking a sip of espresso.

“Oh, this is fine.  I like it here,” he said with a smile. “Let me get a cappuccino.”

“Our lesson today is on listening,”  I announced.

“Listening?” Jake wondered.  “You mean attending the expensive seminars of these popular gurus?”

“Yes, investing in seminars or buying audio or video materials with good content is never a waste.  But let me share to you what some of us do for a better deal,”  I added.

“I am all ears,” he leaned forward.

“Interview with a meal or a cup of coffee,” I disclosed.

“Huh?”

“Every person has a story to tell.  Every person has a lesson that we can learn.  If you show genuine interest in people by showing that you are a willing listener, most of them will open up,”  I explained. “And that includes the personal lessons they learned from their success and failures.”

“How do I get them to join me for a cup?” asked Jake.

“Around 15 years ago, an excellent speaker was visiting Manila for a talk.  I heard that an acquaintance of mine was the organizer of the event.  I volunteered to be the driver.  I picked him up from the airport, brought him to the hotel and to the venue…” I paused.

“So?”

“He was beside me for a long time, plus I got to join him for meals, meaning I could ask a dozen questions and he did not mind answering them,”  I elaborated.  “My questions were simple: How did you do it?  What can you advice me? What should I watch out for?”

“I see.  You volunteered a service; therefore, you had more time with the speaker compared to everybody else,”  he realized.

“Volunteering is one way but I often just invite people for coffee or lunch.  I make sure they know that I will be paying,”  I smiled.

“That’s a good idea.  What if I cannot get close enough to invite a guru?” Jake inquired.

“Jake, it does not have to be a guru.  There are so many people around us who have experienced some degree of success.  Some of them professionals, some of them entrepreneurs, some of them employees, some of them parents, some of them speakers… you get the picture.  We can learn from all of them,”  I exclaimed.  “Learn to ask the right questions.  Then learn to keep quiet and listen.  Then give sensible follow up questions.  Then listen again.”

“What are the right questions?”  asked Jake.

“Before that, make sure that you are genuinely interested in the person and then show that interest through your eyes and words.  Just keep your questions focused on a few subjects.  Ask about how they got started and what were their key lessons,” I suggested.

“Got it.  Show interest.  Keep the questions focused.  Please continue,”

“If people feel that you are sincerely interested, many will be more than willing to share.  For some, it would be like opening a floodgate.  They won’t stop,” I chuckled.

“I already feel like writing a list of people I want to interview,” Jake mentioned.

“That’s it Jake.  And make listening a lifestyle,”  I finished my cup and stood up to leave. “Got to go Jake.  Review my previous blog posts and tell me about your interviews.”

He nodded without looking, listing down those he will be inviting for coffee.

© Eduardo R. Pilapil Jr. 2010

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