On Being A Sounding Board: Rewards and Frustrations

ListeningFor about half of each working day, I listen to clients while they work out their problems. They appreciate a sounding board and no matter what the issue is, they generally have a sense of their own solution. Nevertheless, it helps to talk things through. Things like how much to charge. Things like how to sort out a rather messy situation which has arisen in their business, or a dilemma with one of their own clients.

And what strikes me is this. Robust human beings already know what to do, they have an inner knowing but they also appreciate the opportunity to talk through the pros and cons before making their own decision. And it is interesting to me how often they think they don’t know the answer but when I press them, hey presto, it turns out they do. I love them. I worked with two or three of them yesterday alone.

So what’s that, then? A lack of confidence in one’s own abilities as a business owner as yet. A lonely entrepreneur who wishes they had an old hand to guide them now and again. Or a Creator who just gets clear with his or her mouth open while their own pearls of wisdom drop as they think it through.

Let’s call them Group A. They would have got there on their own but it might have been slower or felt more difficult. But they know how to make a decision. They are whole.

Then there’s another group. Generally they are not clients, though occasionally they are. Their issues are completely different and we are unable to create a resolution within one consultation. Or ever. Group B just like to talk. They ask EVERYONE what they would do as a way of procrastinating or feeling better about themselves, of never making a decision or taking action. What they don’t realise – and perhaps never will – is that their own ability to decide and act is not enhanced by more opinions and more “research” , rather it is stymied. Henceforth I propose to educate them on precisely this point. Gently. If possible.

Group B drive me wild. With frustration. It isn’t even that they don’t take my advice. I have no requirement that anyone takes my advice, paying client or no. It’s that they don’t value my thoughtful application of my time and talents to their issue any more than that of their cleaner, wise though she may be, or the stranger at the bus stop who just might be Einstein’s even  brainier great grandson. Talking through their problems creates more confusion and solves precisely nothing. It keeps them stuck in the drama, the drama of indecision. It is attention seeking. It feeds their emotional needs. There will always be another issue, their problems do not stay solved.

And here’s the thing. I believe we all have the capacity to go from living in Group B into Group A. We just have to notice our own behaviour and decide to change it. Stop talking, talking, talking and DO something for a change.

Dear Universe, please send me more Group As. I’ve done my time with the Group Bs but I shall not be offering them my listening ears or squandering my empathy on them anymore. If you have a business owner who needs to make a tricky decision and wants a sounding board to facilitate that, bring ’em on. If you have someone who just needs a listening ear because they are in emotional crisis, please help me to spot those and make myself available in service.

But hear this…my door is now closed to the B list.

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2 Responses to “On Being A Sounding Board: Rewards and Frustrations”

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  1. Judith Morgan says:

    I think I’ll pass, Frank! I know you are teasing, but this one’s all yours. x

  2. Frank Jurga says:

    I had two telephone conversations last week with one chap that were so one sided, I just couldn’t get a word in edgeways. I’ve looked up the definition because Word underscored it in red – “inability to interrupt a conversation in which someone else is talking incessantly”. By your grading system, this chap would fall into Grade C. I think it is important that you continue to be challenged by people like this to keep you fresh and on your toes – please let me pass him on to you Judith.

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