Talking Less, Listening More: Can You Keep Quiet For Longer Than 18 Seconds?

I am so passionate about what I do and share with my clients how to build a world-class experience (customer & employee) brand. However, that passion tends to be a major problem for me when it takes over and I just start dominating the conversations. So, when I’m on Zoom calls, I literally had to put on my monitor a sticky note that reads “WAIT” which stands for Why Am I Talking? It is a much-needed reminder about taking a deep breath and then talking less and listening more. 

Why We Sometimes Feel Seen but Not Heard at the Doctor’s Office

Unnamed 2, The DiJulius GroupResearch demonstrates doctors repeatedly interrupt the patient presenting their symptoms after just 18 seconds. Why? Well, most people will say because the doctor is seeing too many patients and doesn’t have adequate time to spend quality time with each. While that may be true in some cases, the real answer is that in under twenty seconds most doctors feel they know where the patient is headed, genuinely want to help the patient, and feel ready to give a professional recommendation—all before allowing the patient to finish explaining their problem. Unfortunately for those in the medical profession who monopolize conversations, even with the best of intentions, this does not provide excellent customer service to their patients. Or even a basically positive experience. Unlike in decades past, those in the medical profession, even those with customer lifetimes spanning generations of a family, can no longer count on long-term relationships with their patients. And negative online reviews written by unhappy customers often scare away potential customers before a relationship can even begin.

A friend shared how years ago they had needed to find a doctor in the area for their mother when she had relocated to the Cleveland area. After a bit of research including online reviews, an appointment was made with a highly rated D.O., Dr. Steven Takacs. Over a decade later my friend still raves about this doctor who was an expert in creating an emotional connection with his patients, saying nothing of being brilliant at the basics. He sat down and spent nearly 45 minutes getting to know his new patient, asking numerous questions about her life that went beyond medical. In fact, once Dr. T. discovered they were both U.S. Military veterans, it was suddenly like they were old friends! Talk about creating personalized experiences.

Granted, not every doctor has that much time to spend with each patient, and subsequent appointments weren’t as long, but this doctor provided a truly consistent experience. Even better, he is remembered most for his genuine compassion and willingness to listen. He provided exceptional customer service and in return was rewarded with well-deserved customer loyalty. This doctor went the extra mile, treating his patients like the multi-faceted and real people they were.

The Need for Greater Empathy in Customer Service Across Industries

I’m glad that my friend and their mother had such a positive experience (atypical though it was). Back to my research on customer service in medical settings, however, really made me think. I believe the less-than-positive customer experience of being interrupted is not isolated to doctor visits. In fact, as a consultant, I do this all the time. When someone comes up to me after a speech or a workshop I conducted, they commonly begin presenting me with a struggle they are having with customer or employee experience in their business. Rarely, if ever, is this a scenario I haven’t heard of before or helped a client with, in the past. In fact, in most cases, it is something I have heard hundreds of times before. So, excitedly—because I want to help—I jump in (which is code for interrupting) and give them my solution. I’m sad to say that early in my career, there was a quote I loved to share: “Don’t build me a clock when I just need to know what the time is.”

*RelatedThe Power of Insatiable Curiosity / How to Have a Good Conversation on Divisive Topics

I am pretty sure any professional, who is a true expert in their field, can be and probably is guilty of frequently interrupting their customers. I have come to realize how totally rude this habit is. It is not being a good listener, nor is it professional, and in no way does it provide best-in-class customer service. When clients (patients or customers) seek advice from an expert in their field, they don’t want to feel like that expert has heard it a hundred times before. They want to feel that their situation or problem is unique and that the expert is truly listening to give them the best possible advice. Customers want to pass along their emotional burden to a professional, one who they trust will understand their needs and will work to resolve an issue. They want to feel heard while emptying their bucket and they want to feel appreciated. At the intersection of appreciation and actionable insights—i.e., empathetic customer service—is where positive reviews and repeat business can be found. A happy customer is a loyal customer.

You Can’t Be Listening If You Are Talking 

Unnamed 7 Jpg, The DiJulius GroupHijacking someone’s story or stepping on their message is a horrible habit that demonstrates a conversation is more about us than the person with whom we are communicating. Often, we do this by completing the other person’s thoughts. While we may think we are demonstrating that we are paying attention, the practice is rude; we are not allowing the other person to feel completely heard. We are doing nothing to strengthen our emotional connection with them. The highest form of respect we can show another person is genuinely listening and giving them our undivided attention. However, the listener also benefits dramatically, because it is only when we are truly listening that we learn, that new ideas arise, and that solutions are realized. Listening needs to be something we practice daily. There may be no better ROI.

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”


*Related Conversation Nevers & Always

Emotional Connection and the Art of Listening

“Listening to understand is often the only way of showing people they are special and that you care for them,” says Rich Simmonds in his blog, The Art of Listening. He believes that people will not consider you a leader if your connection isn’t strong enough for trust to develop. For people to feel safe with you, a high level of trust is essential. This holds true no matter your position and what you are selling, e.g., a CEO needing people to follow your lead or a salesperson needing people to buy your product.

For creating the best solutions including scenarios where everyone wins—not just ones in which you can “make the sale”—Simmons encourages listening to understand. This means empathetic listening to best gauge the other person’s true needs and insecurities. And in the process, maybe even a few of your own.

Episode 105 of the CSRev Podcast –

What I wish my parents knew

Capture, The DiJulius GroupThis episode is the hardest interview I have ever had to do.  The least excited interviewer I have ever been. However, I feel it may be the most important podcast I have ever done. 

Chief Revolution Officer John DiJulius of the DiJulius Group talks with Jason Reid, serial entrepreneur, author, ironman athlete, and most of all a great family man. In 2018, life could not have gotten much better, until he and his wife received the devasting news that their youngest son Ryan took his own life. Today Jay is on a mission to reach every parent and every family about the conversations they need to be having with their kids. 

You will learn:

  • Depression in children and teenagers is at an all-time high.
  • Suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death in kids ages 10-14.
  • How teen depression is not prejudiced re. who it affects.
  • As parents, we know exactly what to do when our child falls physically ill. But for many of us, mental health is still unknown—and to help our kids, we need more support than Google can provide. Many of us have no prior experience with depression or anxiety.
  • What are the signs we should be looking for if our child is struggling with depression?
  • What questions should we be asking?
  • What you can do about it.


“Always give without remembering; always receive without forgetting.”


How to Avoid Empathy Fatigue with Your Customers


Are you waking up before your alarm goes off, throwing the covers off, and jumping out of bed because you are so excited about your workday, your career, and the impact you are having? Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who do feel like that. Maybe it is time you became one of them.

The DiJulius Group holds CX Coach Camps, training passionate CX (Customer Experience) Coaches. These entrepreneurs will be licensed to train businesses on the exact same methodology used with the best customer service companies from all over the world, to start their own six-figure coaching businesses. 

If you can answer “Yes” to the following, becoming a CX Coach may be perfect for you:

  • Are you ready to make a difference in the lives of businesses?
  • Do you want to be part of a community of revolutionaries?
  • Are you seeking financial independence?

Capture 1, The DiJulius Group

About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.