Shut up.

Shut up. No really stop talking. When is the last time someone said that to you?  Been a while huh? Well I am here to tell you to close your mouth and open your ears.  In the beginning of February I spent some time at social media week in NYC.  Tons of presentations, lots of great minds, and too many cocktails.  After the week I was looking back at my notes and found one theme that carried through almost all of them – DIALOGUE. Sounds elementary right? You’re right, it should be something you learn early in your profession but lately I see way to many people talking AT each other rather than WITH one another.

What’s that about?

I have friends from all walks of life – students, servers, young professionals, c-level professionals, stay-at-home moms, bloggers.  The list goes on and on.  One thing that carries throughout all of these is the need for conversation.  These people, like me, spend their days fostering dialogue.  Unfortunately too many of them don’t shut up long enough to hear what is going on around them.  They miss opportunities, lessons and possible the next best thing.

These people are the monologers.  They always have their defense up. Instead of listening and digesting what people are sharing, they spend that time building their defense or response.  All too often I hear “I know but…” or “Okay but…”  The second I hear this, I know they haven’t listened to what I said or what I had to offer.   There is always a time and a place for a defense but you need to recognize when it is a dialogue you could be having rather than a wall you need to build.

During Social Media Week I sat in on an interview with @dans (CEO of Foursquasre). He spent a ton of time talking about the evolution of the foursquare product/program and touched a bit on how the roadmap was being developed. What was the main point – the foursquare members are the ones that created it – not their internal team. Instead of forcing a monologue on their members, the Foursquare team listened to what they were saying – what features they wanted, on what devices, in what way.  They built a dialogue with their members and grew the membership to over 6.5 million people.

So shut up. Stop talking at people and listen. Your defense means nothing. I don’t care. Let’s move forward together as a conversation.

How are you building you dialogues? What impact does it have on you products?

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