I have this hand-written sign hanging in my office next to my montor.
WAIT -- Why Am I TalkingAs someone who talks all day for a living, why would I have such a thing in such clear view of my daily activities? It is reminging me to shutup and listen. My fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Dunn, used to tell the class nearly every day that God gave us two ears and only one mouth to listen twice as much as we talk. When it comes to building customer relationships, I think that is very good advice.
Sometimes when I get into a groove explaining how our software works and why certain settings should be that way, I sometimes forget to ask the customer why they did it their way. So, occationally, I will look away from my montor and see my sign. It is a gentle reminder that my customer has something to say as well. I may shift gears and ask the customer questions about their environment to get a better understanding. It may not change the outcome but now my customer feels included in the conversation. Don't get me wrong, I definately have those "I know you are out there; I can here you breathing" moments. I find it is more productive to have a discussion, a dialogue, rather than a lecture.