I've been married for more than 6 years and I've known my wife for more than 8. By now, we should know each other pretty well, wouldn't you think? When we are with friends she has to listen to stories she heard gazillion times before, and she still manages to smile or laugh when the punchline comes around.
I think these moments and habits partners know intimately, make us believe we know the other person. But, once in a while, we're in the middle of a conversation and one of us shares a moment or story we never heard before. And it reminds all of us that we do know a lot about our partner but we don't know everything. (And, by the way, each person is evolving each and every day.)
An entire industry has been built around the idea to avoid these personal and revealing moments. Instead, we discuss the lives of others on TMZ, PerezHilton or awfulplasticsurgery.com. These are just diversions and white noise.
The real stories are with your family, your friends, colleagues. You can wait all your life to hear these stories and experience amazing moments. Or you can simply ask. But don't ask if you're not ready for an answer. Meaning: if you're too busy/pre-occupied to listen, don't even bother asking. As you can read in 'Listening Is An Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project', by Dave Isay:
"If we take the time to listen, we'll find wisdom, wonder and poetry in the lives and stories of the people all around us."
As discussed in my previous post, we have to change our marketing lingo in order to find meaningful connections between brands and people. Once we embraced a more personal, dare I say more loving language, we need to embrace the idea of listening as an act of love. Just like the first date when we force ourselves to ask questions and listen, brands need to listen to people to show 'their love'. It's hard for me to use deep-rooted emotional words to describe the brand-people relationship. But that trepidation shows me that this is something we need to work on and develop.
Successful marketing needs to be rooted in discovering the stories that make people unique and the dreams that drive them. Everything else is just a diversion and white noise.
Thanks to Tom Peters for the inspiration and Ira Glass for constantly pushing the idea of listening as an act of love.