Coming up with content 24×7 gets old really fast. But what if there were some other way than blasting out your own content all day long? Something easier, some way you could get your stream filled with content without being in complete broadcast mode all the time. What if you could stop being like a one-way valve and have a two-way valve instead as part of your social media strategy? Crazy, right?
What if you went to a party and talked about yourself the entire time? That would be pretty boring! And yet, some people still talk non-stop at parties. But if you listened twice as much as you talked, you might learn some things about your new and old friends. The same concept applies online. As David Tovey says, hearing is not listening.
Take the Strain Off Yourself
Although listening might sound more difficult than talking, all it requires is that you be fully present. That is, ready to listen and free of distracting thoughts. That may seem a little “zen” to you–like a meditation. And listening can also involve watching the other person’s posture, mannerisms, and all the different tones in their voice. So instead of hearing your own inner thoughts, for a few minutes you can focus completely on someone else. Think of it as a mini-vacation, a way to balance your online life.
Listen Without Expectation
When I searched online for “listening,” there was an image of a shower head on the site–someone out there has been listening to my online searches. They wanted to sell me something. However, that’s different than not having any expectation than to hear. And it’s tricky to not be waiting with something to say, but to listen with no advice, no retort, and no pushing your own agenda!
Everyone (on social media or not), is spewing information. We are up to our ears in information. And if you believe, as Julian Treasure outlines in his excellent TED Talk 5 Ways to Listen Better, that we are “losing our listening,” then it’s extremely important to work on this vanishing skill. Rather than reducing your friends’ thoughts and words to sound bites, listening fully lets them express the subtlety of their experiences–and lets you shine by being unique.
What if you knew what your clients were thinking about? Or what your friends were focused on? You can! Just ask them. It’s that simple. Be creative in how you reach out. Try asking in a simple, yet direct way. “What’s the haps? Or “what’s new, Daddy-O?” are sure to elicit a smile. Rather than worrying about what they might be thinking, ask and then listen.
Be a Great Conversationalist
Here is my call to action for this post. For one day, try listening. Repost, retweet, and talk to people online. Could you do that? I’d be willing to bet that most people will say that you’re a great conversationalist! Like Ted Rubin says “Jump in & do it.”
Let me know how that goes. Although some of you are probably already there, listening.