A New Way to Listen

A New Way to Listen is an article that focuses mostly in being able to develop empathy by listening. This is a topic of great importance as advertisers since we must understand the audience we are talking to. By being able to feel empathy, we can have a better understanding of people and therefore we will be able to reach them. It is all about getting into the person’s mind and understanding how it works.

The process starts by going after the person’s inner monologue and in order to understand it, “a person’s inner thoughts must be communicated, either spoken aloud or written down”. The first step according to the article is to ask the person about their behavior and what was going through their minds in a specific event, time, etc. not to focus on the details of what was happening but more on the person’s thinking process at that time. As the article states, we must take into consideration that the inner thought process consists of “whys, wherefores, decision-making and indecision, reactions, and causation”, and even though there are a lot of explanations, preferences and opinions, what we are truly after is in pluming the depths in order for us to understand how the mind is flowing. We are after the driving forces of the person. What makes them do what they do? Or think the way they think? By taking a look at this, we will be able to think and see from that person’s perspective.

The type of listening that Indi Young talks about is not the listening that takes place in everyday conversations. Usually when a conversation is taking place, we are not listening carefully to the person who is talking and we don’t go deep enough for empathy. We are distracted by our own thoughts or responses and we are just at the level where we infer rather than understand. However, for this type of listening we must focus on the person and the opinions as well as make the speaker trust us with their inner thoughts and reasoning. By paying attention and not thinking about our opinions or responses we might be surprised by new and different perspectives. To tie this further with advertising, when trying to ask a person about a specific topic, for example if you are doing an ad for an insurance company, Indi Young explains that you do not ask about the topic, but rather about an experience or life events such as death in the family. This will lead to the person’s feelings and you will be able to understand their way of thinking around such an event.

Something that Indi Young talks about is that we are after the intent. The key is to find why the person is doing something or feeling a certain way. Not how the person does it. “You’re after overarching intentions, internal debates, indecision, emotion, trade-offs, etc. You want the deeper level processes going through her mind and heart—the things that all humans think and feel”. Our goal is to ask the person questions such as “Tell me your thinking there” in order to understand what was going on their mind as well as heart. Also, Young talks about how we humans make assumptions based on our experiences and how we believe we understand someone else and where they are coming from. However, she explains that we must make sure we understand and that we ask the person, because we do not have the person’s context or life experience.

Lastly, Young talks about how in a listening session we should not hurry the speaker and should allow them to feel like we don’t know anything about their minds. “It’s her mind, and you are a tourist”. Allow the person’s mind to go wherever it has to and be really focus on everything the person is saying. Don’t rush things and don’t assume because when assuming we are missing out on the explanation about the speaker’s thought process behind decisions, reactions, etc. A listening session does not have a limit time and there might be times when the conversation will come to a dead end, but just continue to ask about the person’s thinking process. The session “ends when you think you’ve gotten the deeper reasoning behind each of the things the speaker said. All the things the speaker thinks are important will surface”. As an advertiser, listening is of great importance, and these listening sessions can have a great benefit when it comes to understanding your targeted audience. It will even help you through the process of creating the persona and really have an understanding of how your product can reach that person.




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