Monthly Archives: September 2013

Stop Hearing and Listen!

As a mother of a two year old I’m constantly trying to communicate with my son in a way that won’t tarnish our relationship down the road. You know what I mean – I’m careful to avoid negative connotations such as shy or klutzy so that he doesn’t grow up thinking that he really is shy or klutzy. Johann Wofgang von Goethe (a German writer) said it well, “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain as he is. If you treat an individual as he could be, he will become the person he could be.”

I’m not sure when I started to really pay attention to my choice of words (perhaps while studying public relations at Kent State University?), but when I did, I found myself saying less and hearing more. And then I started to listen.

According to Seth Horowitz, an auditory neuroscientist at Brown University, “Hearing…is easy. …Listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload” (The New York Times, Sunday Review, “The Science and Art of Listening). Just like any skill, listening requires a conscious effort.

Think about it… When is the last time you had a face-to-face meeting without people checking their phones for the latest text, email, or Facebook post? (We noticed ourselves doing this during our own True team meetings and quickly put the kibosh on it!)

Paul Axtell, a personal effectiveness trainer and author of “Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids” says, “listening without adding to or changing the conversation is what is important. Reassuring someone isn’t listening. Trying to solve the problem isn’t listening. Just listening is listening. And when people feel you are interested and paying attention, they actually speak about things that matter to them.”

I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to really respect and listen to my son. If I don’t do that for him he’ll certainly not do that for others and that’s not the person I want him to be. Fortunately, kids give you many opportunities to listen (and if you don’t they’ll call you on it), but clients might not.

Listening takes practice.

Are you hearing or are you listening?

Pinterest is Doin’ it Right – Openly and Honestly

pinterest 2It’s no surprise that Pinterest has decided to add sponsored pins to our Pinterest accounts; I mean, how else are they going to make a profit? But what I did find surprising – and refreshing – was how Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, sent us Pinterest users a nice letter (that he also shared as a blog post: Planning for the Future), sharing his personal pins to help demonstrate the changes that we’ll see coming.

What’s different here isn’t that Pinterest made this announcement, rather it’s how they made the announcement that’s different. It wasn’t a formal, official, corporate-like statement that appeared when you opened your account; it was a nice, open letter (delivered via a personalized email to those with a Pinterest account) that felt more like a conversation – even though it’s not like I actually conversed with Ben, but I did look at his Pinterest page and got to know him a little bit better as a person. Ben shared the pins he plans to share with his son – while he’s small and while he’s older – something that I (a mom) could relate to. Point being, Ben first and foremost identified a way to relate to me, and many people, as a user of Pinterest.

Ben was also very upfront and honest – an admirable quality. He makes it very clear in his letter that they – Pinterest – don’t yet know what this means, yet they chose to give us fair warning. Who does that these days?! He goes on to give us an idea and a few examples of what promotional pins might be like while still making it clear that this isn’t happening tomorrow, rather it will be an evolution.

Ben’s letter was kind, compassionate, and open. What’s more is that this isn’t the first time he’s done this – we Pinterest users have received other letters from Ben, i.e. the letter announcing the secret board capability (perfect if you’re pregnant, want to plan and not ready to share!). I realize that promotional pins beg a lot of questions but for now I can’t help but be excited for Pinterest – as a company and as a user. And I think they’re open, honest approach is one we can learn from.

If you’re interested in learning more about Pinterest, how to use it for your business or how they’re experimenting with promoting pins, you can fill out this form and they’ll share updates as their launch date approaches. Enjoy.