Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Winter - the season for listening?

Winter in Tasmania is the known as the quiet season. 
Interstate & international visitors are fewer in this season, and the recent world economic uncertainty has contributed to this season being particular quiet. However, beyond the immediate financial concerns held within the Tasmanian tourism industry, there is something more cyclical that we can examine to our benefit. The four seasons, and in particular, winter. 

There is one thing we can afford to do in winter, that we cant in late spring & early summer (otherwise known as "the silly season"). What we can do now is to utilise the pace of this "slow season" to listen. Listen to the consumer market, address changes that need to be made, and plan for a changed market place. The pre Christmas period doesn't allow us to take time to slow down, reflect, and undertake detailed planning.  

But beyond a business perspective, it is the season to listen to ourselves, think about our own direction, our path, our own journey. It is also the perfect time to make a pot of tea and sit down with a friend and really listen to them. Don’t be in a rush to get back to the office, or to even chip in your thoughts and volunteer "a fix it solution" to their concerns. Just practice listening.  Become mindful that we are usually thinking about our response, rather than actually listening.

So maybe it's time to adopt a new way of looking at winter & the slow season? Accept the reduced pace & pressure & use the season to practice the art of listening. 

Steven Covey in "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" calls for "empathic listening" in his chapter on "First Seek to Understand, before being Understood". 
Peter Guber (Author of "Tell to Win, Connect, Persuade & Triumph, with the hidden power of story", & Producer of Rainman, Batman, & Gorillas in the Mist) http://www.peterguber.com/telltowin/home  in his interview with Tony Robbins (Peak Performance Speaker) http://business.tonyrobbins.com/176/peter-guber-.   talks about "everyone having a story"

Everyone's story needs a voice, but also someone to hear it. It wouldn't be hard to find an article on the reasons Social Media is so popular - it's a way for people to share their story. People want to be heard.   

One of the aspects of the interview between Peter Guber & Tony Robbins was that it highlighted for me the importance of listening to the customers story. The benefits of listening to the customer will ultimately lead to providing what they really want. Winter is a good opportunity for me to practice listening to my customers. 

Whilst tea is an all year round beverage, and arguably consumed in great quantities in the cold season, the business is still affected by reduced tourist numbers to the State. Salamanca Market is far from crowded & cafes & restaurants that serve The Art of Tea are also quieter. But this is the season where I can practice the art of listening.  By listening we be in the best position to provide for that person. Extending this to the future of tourism and sales in State, we can use this time to listen, do "market research" and find out to what consumers really want to experience. 

So go and put the kettle on, make a cuppa and practice listening to your friends & family, the consumer, & importantly to yourself. 

Take a stroll on the beach or in a native forest (with a beanie & coat!) and hear the waves, the wind, the birds.

Allow this to be the season of quiet. It wont be long until it's the silly season again...