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Learning to Pay Attention

Are you listening to people or simply hearing what you want to hear? I wasn't listening and it cost me.

It's been a while since my last blog post, and that is frankly because I've been a whirling dervish. Within the last 30 days, I have had an employee leave, conducted interviews, hired someone new, wrapped 182 Christmas presents for various people, brought on 4 new clients and managed to squeeze in Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year's festivities. Have I said I'm tired yet, because I am.

I'm also excited because I have become acutely aware of something detrimental I have been doing for a very long time and now I get the chance to change it. Isn't that great? It's it exciting when something clicks and you can take control over a situation to improve your life? 

Here is what I learned in a nutshell: I learned that I need to pay attention when people tell me things. I'll tell you a story to illustrate what I mean and change names to protect the innocent (and the guilty!).

About 8 months ago, it became clear that due to growth we were going to need to hire additional help. I really took time to sort out what type of person we were looking for. I conducted countless interviews until I found someone that was perfect. This person was perfect for many reasons.  They had the skills to do the job, the desire to do the job and we got along great.

That is exactly what I told myself.

The truth is, the person didn't have the skills or the desire and to be honest, after the first week, I really didn't like them that much. But, because I needed someone, I convinced myself this wasn't the case. I convinced myself that they were PERFECT.
I think back and think about this employee saying things like, "I wasn't going to even respond to your email for a phone screen because I thought, oh, there are probably many more people, more qualified than I am and I'll never get to the next step." and "I'm a writer first. I'll never think like that," in response to a conversation about how to approach a situation.

I remember an episode of Dr. Phil when he said, "When people tell you who they are, listen to them." Oh Dr. Phil, how right you are!

This person was telling me at every step that they were not right and I refused to listen.

You can imagine how this arrangement turned out. Let me give you the highlights: It took me twice as long to get things done because I had to triple check the work, my clients weren't thrilled with what was coming from this individual and I was personally being driven over the edge by the whiny, can't do attitude.

We parted ways and I was faced yet again with having to find someone. So, I called in my friend Sarah. Sarah is a psychotherapist. It's always nice to have a friend who's a psychotherapist. Sarah helped me go through resumes, conduct interviews and ultimately led me to the notion that I don't have to get people to LIKE ME in an interview - they should be getting me to LIKE THEM. Right. OF course. I thought I was smarter than this but apparently I'm not. In all honesty it was groundbreaking for me. In the past I had gotten lucky hiring by instinct, but it certainly wasn't a winning formula. Sarah taught me some great skills and I'm happy to say that she helped me find a truly great employee. 

So in the new year, business owners, start paying attention to what people are telling you - even if you don't want to hear it. It will save you lots of aggravation in the future. Trust me.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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