Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Insights from the New VP

By Michelle Merritt, VP Member Relations & Communications

It's basically been two months now that I've been at the Chamber. I'm learning a ton, enjoying so many great people, staying busier than I dreamed possible, and am beginning to understand the impact we really make. I hear stories every day of how the Chamber has helped someone in our community. I also have heard lots of ideas on how we can improve & make business better in Fort Wayne. In the last week I've learned just how important it is to shut up and listen. 

Now, I'm a talker by nature. In fact, I couldn't do my job if I wasn't but I'm noticing just how much more gets done when we shut up and listen. I'm sure my mother is horrified that I'm saying "shut up" in public (it was labeled a “bad word” in our house growing up) but "be quiet and listen" just doesn't have the same impact. I've learned the art of asking the question, "So tell me how we can help" & shutting up. I admit I'm often biting the inside of my cheek to keep from speaking and then forcing myself to focus on what the person is saying instead of the pain in my cheek but it works. People want to be heard. They want to feel as though someone's listening. We've all been in those conversations where we don't say more than two words while the other person drones on & on before suddenly citing your little one sided chat as the best conversation they ever had. It's because people want to be heard & listening is often the best gift we can give someone. 

I've also learned the art of writing the words "DONT TALK" on my note pad during the presentation of one of my team members so that they have the opportunity to shine. Every time I want to speak up, I circle those words on my pink legal pad instead. This week someone on my team really shined & I had the pleasure of witnessing it because I circled those words repeatedly instead of talking. What a huge win for both of us!  I'm continually amazed at how impactful shutting up really is. 

So here's my commitment to each of you. I promise we're listening. We're shutting up & listening to what you have to say but that means you have to do the talking. So tell us, "How can we help?"  

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