Last week, some on our Pactola team were invited by a company who sells software for loan analysis, to attend a presentation on their product.  Now we are in the process of analyzing our current system, tools, and spreadsheets to see if we can find better tools in the market at a reasonable price which will make us more efficient and thorough in our work.  Efficiency has been a large focus of our group and we made two major computer system changes in the past two years to move us in a positive manner forward.

So back to the story.  In the introduction to the Webinar, I shared who we are, what we do, and what we were looking for.  This was the second time this group has heard our story so I expected the presentation to be tailored to the features in the system which applied to our direct need and wants. 

The presenters seemed to have some canned steps they went through to show off their product.  And it was a nice product and would have much appeal to some credit unions or community banks.  The product had features for deposits and treasury management, two areas we do not get into.  They spent time on their file management system, even after we told them we had a significant investment in our PacPortal and their system was not set up to replace the needs that are met with that product. 

As the presentation droned on, I attempted to steer it back on course to the items which we needed to see with spreading financials, industry averages, global cash flows, and the like.  But in each case, after answering the question quickly, they veered off the road of our needs and into the ditch of the canned presentation.  Within the first 15 minutes of the presentation, I was getting messages from others on my team listening and watching this train wreck about how this product would not work. 

At the end of the hour, they were successfully able to cover the “canned” portion of their presentation and we felt as though we each had an hour of our lives stolen away from a group which did not listen to our needs.  

Listening is a tough topic to write about.  I have had the honor of being married for 26 years to the most wonderful woman I know.  I still see how inadequate I am in this field.  My younger son who is engaged, has recently discovered in premarital counseling just how bad he is at listening.  We tend to think too much about what we want to say next and how important that is, instead of simply absorbing what is being said to us.  Or like our loan management software company, we have a presentation we feel we need to give and do not fully care about what the other person has to say.

This is not a conversation and an attempt to understand the other person, this is a speech.  It is seeking for others to understand you at the expense of not taking time to truly understand them.  When I was young I had an aunt, who told me if I was only concerned with talking and not listening, to just go talk up a storm to the barn and when I was ready to listen to come back.  “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason” she would say.

My hope is that the hour of life that I lost in the presentation will come to my mind the next time I fail to listen to someone else and am only concerned with what I think I need to say.  To be an effective listener is to listen to others the same way you want them to listen to you.

Quick Bites:  By the time this goes out the holiday that kicks off summer, Memorial Day, will have passed.  My hope is that you take time to think about what the holiday is truly about, remembering those who have sacrificed for our liberty.  I had the privilege of spending time with my dad recently, who was a veteran of the Korean War.  Take time to thank those who have sacrificed for us.