Are You Listening?

By Sue Voyles / November 1, 2015 /

“What’s your name sweetie?”

Yes, those were the words I heard on the other end of the phone recently. Seems incredible, doesn’t it, that a gentleman who was calling a business (to potentially engage in business) would actually say such a thing in the 21st century?

The caller had asked to speak to “the owner of the business” and my reply was “you are.” And then followed the next unexpected question, which in my mind was rather amusing. It just sounded so ludicrous, so 1970s.

Yes, it’s true that, “On average, full-time working women earn just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns,” according to the White House. And when it comes to women owning businesses in the U.S., the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) says that as of 2012, “Of nonfarm and non-publicly-held businesses, 36.0% are women-owned.” ( (In 2007, 28.8% were women-owned.)

Regardless of whether you think the above statistics show that women are gaining financial and business traction in this country (and granted, there is still work to be done), I think the caller’s query shows something else.

Not listening.

Not paying attention.

Because if he had been listening and registered my response as being the owner of the business, his next question, in my mind, would have been something different, or at the very least, phrased in a different way. As a professional communicator, I realize that listening is just as important as communicating. It’s true in business, and in life.

Today I challenge you to really listen, really pay attention, to the next person you engage in conversation. Whether it’s the clerk in the coffee shop, a client you’re meeting with, or your child at the dinner table. When we do that, we show respect to the other person and our relationships are much more rewarding.

By the way, the NWBC also says that, “Women-owned businesses generated $1.6 trillion in receipts.” Certainly a number worthy of attention by anyone looking to sell us “sweeties” something.
– Sue Voyles