Six of the UK’s biggest “brands” failed to listen to their most engaged fans this week, and now look like fools (Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham and Arsenal). Perhaps we all spend too much time speaking and thinking but not enough time just listening.
For me, I think the last year has seen a re-focus on the importance of it. It’s the power behind relationships and is so much more than hearing and responding. It can build knowledge and wisdom through key interactions and moments. True listening allows us to witness people’s stories, see different points of view and relate to others in a much deeper way.
Listening, really and honestly – not with an ear cocked for what we want to hear – should be at the heart of great insight.
For one thing, moderating over video forces you to do it. The etiquette required means we have to let one person finish before speaking. So there are greater pauses, and that’s a good thing. Silence is a moderator’s friend, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Pauses give people space, and that’s key, whatever Qualitative method we’re deploying our focus should be on giving our participants space to share.
This leads onto the second aspect of the last year that has brought listening to the fore. We’ve relied more on digital, and in particular mobile Qualitative methods. Often these aren’t live and so involve us analysing data that participants have created ‘unsupervised’. Unable to probe (interrupt!) we’ve got to do two things;
1. (As above) design tasks that facilitate people giving us more – create space
2. Really listen hard to what we’ve got; listen to what’s being said, how it’s being said, and what’s not being said.
We put great focus at the moment on sharing our opinions. Let’s be honest, this will soon be on LinkedIn as another researcher/strategist (whatever we want to call ourselves) giving their latest thoughts. But perhaps it’s time we remember that listening is just as important as sharing.
Andy - Co-Founder OMTM Americas