This morning I had a profound experience. There are some professional shnorrers in my area - people who beg for a living and visit the same places on a daily basis to collect their alms. One gentlemen prides himself on taking around a basket of snacks and small items like pens, which he prefers to sell rather than have to just ask people for charity. This morning, rather than giving him a dollar as usual, I noticed his enthusiasm to sell his items and I decided to buy a packet of pencils even though I didn’t particularly want them. He almost burst into tears and said “Thank you for letting me to sell them to you! Thank you God! Thank you for allowing me to sell things rather than having to beg! Thank you!”. It was a little disconcerting.
Last week a conversation with laid the groundwork for the beggar/pencils episode. A stylish friend of mine is planning to write a handbook for the sophisticated Renaissance man, and I asked him about the Art of Gift Buying. What is the trick to buying great gifts that people will love? I asked. He said ‘just listen to people. They will usually tell you what they want or need, even if not directly. They give it away in their words if you listen closely’. This theory proved correct; I knew the Pen Man preferred to sell his knick-knacks rather than beg, so when I bought one item he almost felt to his knees in the synagogue and started recited Hail Marys.
Valentine's Day always has a personal poignancy as it is also my parent’s wedding anniversary. One thing I have observed from my parents is how they listen to each other. They will hear each others’ needs, listen closely to when the other requires support, be sensitive to what is going on and routinely offer help even when they may not be in the mood. Repeatedly they step over and above the call of duty to be there for one another.
There is a Biblical love story which tells the opposite. One partner asks for something and the other partner wants to connect but does not hear. The first partner, God, specifically asks the people to listen (“Shema”) and not to serve any other gods, but the second partner, some unfaithful Hebrews, get impatient for revelation and build a golden calf. The commentators compare the people to an unfaithful partner because they could not maintain the sanctity of the relationship.
Love, it seems, can mean shutting up and listening. Love can be putting the other person first. Love can be listening out for what is needed, wanted, being sought after. Love is listening and responding. The organs of love are the ears as we hear deeply, the eyes as we see the other person, the heart as we feel for what we can do.
Love can be expressed in many forms. Maybe it’s a California thing but during the last 18 months I have increasingly heard the sign-off ‘much love’ or ‘with love’ within a business context. One way to improve client relations and build your income base is by listening closely to what your clients are saying and by hearing where your skills can best be called into action.
Our world is run on relationships and if we make other person feel better, everybody wins. Can you feel the love tonight? If not, make it happen.
APPLY THIS IN THE BOARDROOM: How can you listen more closely to your customers? What is being said that you are not hearing? Perhaps your clients are ‘saying’ it with their actions. Listen closely. A good place to start is in an area where you consider your business is not running providing.
APPLY THIS IN MEDITATION: Meditate on where you can be more loving and giving in relationships. Choose one particular relationship and consider how you can listen and respond more deeply and truthfully to what they are asking for.
APPLY THIS ON THE MAT: Use you yoga practice today as a chance to listen to your body. What is it asking for? More aerobic activity, deeper stretches or more restfulness? Or something else entirely? Listen out to what your body is saying. If you would like to take this deeper, try giving your body a voice and having a conversation with it as if you were speaking with someone, but voice both parts of the conversation.
- Marcus J Freed consults people to play at their highest game. For the last 20 years he has been on a journey of business training, relentless self-development and deep spiritual cultivation. To access more of Marcus’s resources, visit his youtube channel “Marcus Recommends” and www.marcusjfreed.com. You can purchase Marcus's book The Kosher Sutras on Amazon.