E. F. Hutton

“You’re not listening to me!” Yep, that’s what I heard from a prospect in a sales appointment over 20 years ago. And, when I heard it, I heard it. Wow. It’s not that I wasn’t listening; I was actually thinking of what to say next…hmm, meaning I wasn’t listening. I’ve been working on this ever since. And, quite honestly, at times, it’s a slow go.

It’s time to slow down and be present with people again. It’s time to fully engage with those that matter, and, if it’s another human being, they probably should matter.

I just googled this question: How many words can people think per minute? 

Here is the first paragraph I got: Most people talk at the rate of 125 words per minute. Most of us think at least four times faster than this. With concentration and practice, we can listen and understand as many as 400 words per minute. Since we think so much faster than people speak, our mind tends to wander to other things.

With the speed of our thoughts, the ever expanding electronic media and the pace of life, how in the world can we be listening to anyone well anymore?

If you’ve heard of E. F. Hutton, the financial services company, you probably remember their old television commercials. These highly effective commercials focused on their motto of the time, “When E. F. Hutton speaks, people listen.”

The setting in the commercial was typically a busy restaurant or another public place. Two people would be talking about financial matters, and the first person would repeat something his broker had said concerning a certain financial investment. The second person would then say, “Well, my broker is E. F. Hutton, and E. F. Hutton says…” At that point, every single person in the restaurant would stop dead in their tracks, turn, and listen to what the man was about to say.

That’s the kind of value we need to place on listening.  That’s the presence we want and they want from us.

When our spouse is telling us about her day, is she E. F. Hutton?

When our kids are relating a story or a challenge, are they E. F. Hutton?

What about that client or coworker you’re seeking to serve? Or the neighbor that catches you in the driveway in the midst of hurriedly trying to get back inside to do…whatever?

It’s time to be aware and intentional. Time to make people matter and show them that they are important to us by valuing what they have to say. As Covey’s 5th Habit in his best-selling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People goes, it’s time to “Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood”.