“I Heard You Say…”

After the wake-up calls of 2016, the New Year’s resolution pinned on fridge doors and vision boards should be: to listen better. How do we do that effectively with people with different views?

Sylvia Klimaki

Senior Consultant at C Space

It’s that time of the year again… outlooks, what-to-watch-out-fors and forecasts about 2017 are spamming our inboxes. As we embark on the fortune-telling trek it might be worth pausing for a moment to look back.

There is no doubt that 2016 has been an unpredictable year, especially when it comes to forecasting: Brexit, the US elections, the Italian referendum – pollsters, political pundits, and analysts got it all wrong.  With the Dutch, French and German elections coming up in 2017, the post-mortem list is likely to grow.

2016 reinforced a precious belief: Data without context is like cooking without a recipe; you have all the ingredients but don’t know when or how to use them.

We have access to ingenious inventions and statistically advanced models designed to predict and grasp what is happening around us and yet, as we hear from clients every day, it is becoming even more difficult to figure out our increasingly complex world. We live in a strange era, where the most data-driven, statistically sophisticated campaign in American history was defeated by a candidate whose primary “scientific” tool was his twitter account.

Access to huge amounts of data is easier than ever, with analytics sales expected to top $187 billion by 2019. Yet despite all that data, we face an incredible inability to understand and predict people’s needs, hopes and frustrations.  To put it another way: we have the data but we lack context; we have numbers but we lack meaning; we have technology but lack humanity.

It looks like people are so caught up in fortune telling that they forgot to understand the present. Our Chairwoman and Clinton campaign aide Diane Hessan recently wrote in the Boston Globe about the need for people to be understood and how we all need to make more of an effort to speak to instead of about each other.

Spending time and money looking only at numbers, viewing humans as mere data-points, sales targets and electorate votes is a fruitless endeavor. It’s not only about complementing big data with thick (qualitative) data, it is also about genuinely empathising with people. We need to dig deeper than the methods and correlations that data show, get into the human needs and make sense of it all.

We need to start engaging more with one another. Go beyond the quants, the stats and the quals. Hear, but also listen to what others are saying – many times they whisper and we need to find ways to cut through the noise to connect with them, to really get them.

But to do that we, as insight professionals, need to leave our personal biases behind, be genuinely open to all possibilities and be ready to be surprised. Only then will we be able to explore and approach what really matters to people.

So, how about adding ‘learning to listen’ to our new year’s resolution lists?

Roy Langmaid, the man we call when we are grappling with some of the deeper questions in our work, suggests 5 key responses you can use in your next conversation to 1) keep your mind on what the speaker is saying, and 2) show the speaker they are being truly listened to.

When the speaker has finished their thought, try:

  1. “I heard you say…”
    Repeat a phrase used by the speaker back to them – people love to hear their own words.
  2. “I noticed that…”
    Make a point about the way they said something, their body language, their speed, emotion.
  3. “I felt…(angry, glad, sad, scared etc.)…when you said…”
    By sharing your feelings, you are showing you are engaged

After 1, 2 and 3, you can complement with the following to give the speaker permission to open up.

  1. “…it sounds as if…”
    This lets the speaker confirm or deny, and then explain why
  2. “…I imagine that…”
    This lets the speaker open up

When all have fallen off the jogging and salad wagons, knowing how to listen, without prejudice, could open up more opportunities than ever before.

Happy 2017….

You may be interested in:

Beth Comstock: An Outsider Inside

Beth Comstock: An Outsider Inside Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: As Beth Comstock sees it, most companies simply aren’t ready for the massive change happening in the world. After nearly three decades in senior leadership roles at GE and NBC...

Is Optimism Dead?

Is Optimism Dead? As we approach 2020, the future feels less certain than ever for customers. So that’s why we’ve launched Life as a Customer, a window into the worlds of 700 customers, powered by C Space. We share our first findings in this article......

Customer Experience Lessons Retailers Can Learn From the World’s Best Companies

Customer Experience Lessons Retailers Can Learn From the World’s Best Companies

by Rieva Lesonsky
Small Business Trends

How can your retail store deliver a best-in-class customer experience? Learn from the best, that’s how. Global customer agency C Space recently released its report on the best customer experiences of 2018, and retailers dominated the top companies on the list. Nine of the top 25 companies were retailers: Trader Joe’s, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, Amazon, Costco, REI, Bath & Body Works, Sephora and Aldi.

Best Agency Above £20m and Best Place to Work: C Space

Best Agency Above £20m and Best Place to Work: C Space

by Katie McQuater
Research Live

At the 2018 MRS Research Live Awards, C Space was awarded Best Agency with a turnover above £20m and was also named Best Place to Work.

Rita Gunther McGrath: What’s Next for Strategy?

Rita Gunther McGrath: What’s Next for Strategy? Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Author and Columbia Business School Professor Rita Gunther McGrath is a world-renowned expert on strategy, innovation, and growth. Her work has been a beacon for companies...

The physical brand

The physical brand Our physical experience with a brand is the brand. In our digital world, physical is disruptive. Daniel Sills is the producer of Outside In, a podcast that explores changes in business and consumer behavior and...

What being the number one supermarket really means

What being the number one supermarket really means

by Richie Jones (C Space)
Research Live

After a week of retail results, C Space’s Richie Jones looks at the changing landscape for the supermarkets and how it’ll take more than mergers to keep Sainsbury’s on top.

How millennials are disrupting healthcare — and how to change benefits because of it

How millennials are disrupting healthcare — and how to change benefits because of it

by Hannah Walker
Employee Benefit News

More than half (56%) of millennials visited a doctor’s office in the past year, compared to three-quarters (73%) of non-millennials, according to a survey from C Space Health.

Mike Sepso: ‘Esports are a New Layer of Sports’

Mike Sepso: ‘Esports are a New Layer of Sports’ Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: From Asia to the Americas, there are 320+ million esports fans around the world -- and the audience is expected to double by 2020. But the professional sport of...

Kohl’s is improving store performance by equipping managers with real-time customer data

Kohl’s is improving store performance by equipping managers with real-time customer data

by Hilary Milnes
Digiday

Customer data is going right down to the store level at Kohl’s, where the company is using it to serve managers action items around how to better drive sales in their stores. “These functional developments are becoming table stakes — that’s what everyone in retail is competing on,” said Bill Alberti, chief client officer at customer agency C Space.