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Movie Lessons: Ocean’s Eleven On The importance Of Listening

It is time for another round of movie lessons. This week I will draw from Ocean’s Eleven. There are many things to learn from this movie about putting together the right team (which I may come back to later), but I wanted to focus on listening. I love the scene when Rusty (Brad Pitt) is teaching the celebs how to play cards- “ALL REDS”. He then goes to the bar and the bartender asks “How’s the game going?” The next exchange reminds us of the importance of listening. Check it out below at the 1:38 mark.


If trouble with the video click here. (no affilation to

This art/skill has always been paramount to communication.  We are in a war for our attention and sometimes it is difficult to hear because of all the noise.  To grow your business and any other relationship we must get better at  listening. When we listen to what our customers and prospects say and don’t say (sometimes more important) we can then create great client experiences.  Zappos and Apple have done a great job of this. GM didn’t.

Here are a few tips on better listening that I’ve learned.

1. Listening is active. Don’t just sit there. Ask questions. This lets people know you are engaged. I heard the stories of Chevy Volt at SXSW having great conversations with folks, asking and answering questions.

2. Lean in. When face to face it is always best to lean towards the person speaking. This is a sign of attention. Digitally, I think this accomplished by going to where the conversations are. It could be Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Youtube, Blog comments, or any number of locations your audience hangs out.

3. Don’t wait to talk.  I’ve been guilty of this. Instead of taking in what the speaker was saying I wanted to chime in with my two cents.  Let’s not shove our agenda down someone’s throat in response to what they say. If we absorb what we hear and respond in a way that focuses on them we will build trust.

On a Third Tribe (affiliate link) call today, I listened to Sonia Simone talk about knowing your customer. Grow Bigger Ears by Chris Brogan & The Five Ws of Social Media Listening by Chuck Hemann (Social Media Explorer) are two great resources on how to know your customer. If we focus on “knowing” we can turn our interactions into connections. When we make real connections with others that want what we have there is conversion

Listening is not a talent. It can be learned. What are you doing to filter the noise and skillfully listen?