Target Before the Squeeze

Hi Jon,

I would like to improve my listening skills. I still have problems following the meetings at work. Can you give me some advice?

I go to language meetups on Tuesdays and Thursday. Also, I’m trying to spend time with international friends to talk in English on weekends.

– Yuki

Yuki, your problem is actually super common. When people try to learn a language, there’s a trek of being lazy, getting frustrated, and giving up.

Luckily, you’re not on that path. You seem like the type of person who really tries to make an effort. But watch out: without the right aim and focus, the people who make an effort get even more frustrated. That kind of frustration might make you feel like calling it quits too.

In your case, you need to remember that casual conversation and Business English are two different things. It doesn’t matter how many times you practice “How are you?” or “Where are you from?”— those aren’t topics that’ll prepare you to handle the intricacies of your team’s budget going over, your biggest competitor poaching clientele, or whatever new stupid company policy that’s being enforced.

If you want to think in terms of financing, it’s like expecting to have a retirement fund even though you didn’t put any money into your savings. “Well, I worked full-time and paid my bills on time.” That’s great, of course, but you didn’t actively save any money.

If you want to look at it from the fitness angle, it’s like trying to “be healthy” but then be frustrated when you’re not really that strong or you don’t look like you’re hoping. Being healthy is a a nice idea, but the target of gaining strength or the target of losing weight will require different approaches.

You need better target practice.

Otherwise, it’d be like showing up to the range and firing aimlessly. You made an effort to get there. You spent money on your ammunition. You shot and shot until you used it all up. But in the end, you didn’t really get any closer to hitting the target.

Treat your business target like any good Hollywood revenge movie. It’s not enough to find someone who looks like your target. You need to get as close as you can to the real deal. Target before you squeeze the trigger.

Got more communication questions? E-mail letstalk [at]

Published by Jon Dao

Formerly, the Conversation Coach

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