On September 23rd, 2016, I interviewed Abbidel Cooke, programmer and entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur requires an individual to devote the majority of their time to the expansion of their business and innovative ways of advancing their business. This takes a lot of Abbidel Cooke’s time, but he’s able to make it work while also being employed as a sales consultant at Best Buy.
A barrier is defined as anything that gets in the way of clear communication. One barrier we had experienced was the timing of the interview. Due to his hectic schedule, it was hard to set a time and date. Hence, when being interviewed Mr. Cooke was very tired from his extensive schedule. His thoughts occasionally distanced from the questions being asked. The barrier mentioned can be considered a physiological barrier because it was caused by fatigue, and ill health. Ill health is included, because during the interview, Mr. Cooke describes an experience of when he was tired and unable to communicate with his clients. He then mentioned the following statement.
“The ingredients are there to help you succeed in your business, but you have to take into consideration that you have to keep your health. If you don’t keep your health good then you won’t actively listen, you won’t talk to your customer, you won’t show [good] body language.”
Another barrier was his cultural background. Mr. Cooke is Bangladesh. At various moments, his accent protruded, which made it difficult for me to understand. This barrier was not only present during the interview, but also when I had to transcribe. When listening to the audio file, there were times when his statements were grammatically incorrect or incomplete thoughts. I often used brackets to make sense of his statement for the audience’s sake. This barrier can be considered a physiological barrier, because it arose due to his accent (or his failure to meet a speaking standard in the English language).
However, these barriers did not dramatically hinder nor cease the interview. The overall experience was great. Not only was I able to meet and learn about the life of someone in my field, I was also able to gain experience in conducting interviews. This is a skill I would need to improve on, as an aspiring entrepreneur. I foresee me being involved in multiple interviews in my career, as both the interviewer and occasionally the interviewee.
On September 23rd, 2016 I was given the opportunity to interview Abbidel Cooke, a programmer and entrepreneur. Abbidel Cooke mentioned many influential and important key points in relation to various concepts of listening. As a programmer, his belief is very simple. Programming is a “whole different language…a whole different world”. It gives him exposure to a world beyond speech, and to a much more technical world. He explained that having this exposure gives him different ways to learn. As mentioned in the interview, he’s tri-lingual and has always been intrigued by other cultures. Programming is a new platform for him to explore an entirely different experience.
Salesperson listening has been defined as “the cognitive process of actively sensing, interpreting, evaluating and responding to the verbal and nonverbal messages of present or potential customers” (Castleberry and Shepherd 1993, p. 36). Mr. Cooke touched upon an important related technique. He said, it is very important to understand his customers. “If you don’t know what your customer wants, you can’t create a better future for them.” He goes on to explain, by understanding a customer’s wants and needs, and most importantly eliminating language barriers, you are able to connect more efficiently. “…words are very important. If you don’t use the words the way the customer would look at it, you can’t really do business. You have to literally make up good words to help them understand.” In other words, you have to connect with the customer. You can’t just assume that they will understand everything you’re saying. In any profession, you have to educate them as well as guide them. “So, it’s listening, understanding, and giving feedback when they want it. Not when they need to hear it, but when they want it.” Timing is essential. In general, not everyone wants advice even if it’s needed. Sometimes it’s best to wait for when advice is asked for rather than forcefully advising an individual.
Abbdiel Cooke briefly mentions some of the goals of his career. He names three: Expansion of his business; To give society services for reasonable prices; To educate his clients. Within 10 years he would like his business to grow exponentially. He is able to do contribute to his own success by creating long-term relationships with customers and having their business with him lasts for long periods. The salesperson who asks what the customer needs, listens to the response, and creatively provides a solution will build a better relationship with customers that could be beneficial to the business (Ramsey and Ravipreet, 1997). Abbidel Cooke successfully executes this. He explains how important is it to actively listen to his customers in the interview. When you listen, the customer feels appreciated and they feel as though their time is not being wasted. According to Karrass (1983), “Listening is an important aspect of the negotiation process. Negotiation requires listening, and listening can serve as an inexpensive concession to the other party (Karrass 1983).” Mr. Cooke defines active listening as, “having a piece of paper in front of you and actually listening to what they want. You are listening to [their needs] and jotting down notes as you listen…try to have an open mind and listen to them”. When he shows the customers that he cares, they favor doing business with him now and in the future. In some cases, he’s recommended for promotions by customers.
Listening is such a powerful tool in his everyday life. And he notices when something has hindered his ability to listen. He tells a story of when he felt overwhelmed with his work. He had attended school regularly, worked 40 hours as a sales consultant and 50-60 hours in his own business as a Programmer. He felt exhausted and completely absent from his surroundings when he attended his sales consultant job the following day. When his customers were trying to explain what they needed, he said it was almost as if he was not hearing anything. “Everything was coming in one ear and out the other.” To overcome this obstacle, he said coffee really wakes him up and gets him going. Mr. Cooke believes his health play an important factor in listening and understanding his clients and their needs. He’s able to focus and be productive when he feels physically and mentally healthy.
The clip below is a brief discussion on creating relationships with Abbidel Cooke:
Castleberry, Stephen B. and C. David Shepherd. 1993. “Effective Interpersonal Listening and Personal Selling.” Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management 13 (Winter): 35-49.
Ramsey, Rosemary P., and Ravipreet S. Sohi. “Listening to Your Customers: The Impact of Perceived Salesperson Listening Behavior on Relationship Outcomes. “Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 25.2 (1997): 127-37. Web.
Abbidel Cooke, who has chosen to use another name for this interview, is an aspiring programmer. He currently holds two jobs, one in which he is self-employed and another in which he is a sales consultant at Best Buy. As an entrepreneur, Abbidel Cooke repairs computers and software. He is required to possess many qualifications such as the ability to carefully and strategically dismantle computers when needed; restore a computer’s system after a virus has attacked a computer. This is a very complex skill which requires him to be heedful in every task. If he is not, there’s a great possibility of the entire system being erased.
His ultimate goal is to continue his business, expand his knowledge in computer engineering and become a Professional Programmer. Mr. Cooke is currently finishing his Master’s degree at Valencia College, majoring in Computer Software Engineering.
I would like to interview Abbidel, due to his experience in entrepreneurship and technology. As an aspiring entrepreneur myself, his experience may be able to impact my journey. Also, listening and communicating effectively is extremely helpful in his career choice. Abbidel is tri-lingual, allowing him to effectively communicate and create relationships with his clients of different backgrounds. However, not only does he have to listen and understand what the needs are of the customers, but he also has to listen and understand the computer. A lot of coding and comprehension of software is required when fixing computers. It’s a special skill to have and execute. I feel as though through his service skills, my listening and communication skills will be enhanced after the interview.
By asking this question, the interviewer gains an understanding of the interviewee. It provides background knowledge of why this person is passionate in a specific field. You’re able to connect more in-depth when you understand where a person comes from and knowing situations that have impacted their aspirations.
Do you see yourself here in 10 years?
Figure out if they are happy at this level
This question allows the interviewer to figure out whether or not a person is satisfied with where they are presently. Individuals often encounter many shifts in passions, which then triggers a shift in professions.
What motivates you to work?
Discover if there is something that pushes them to work each day… self-motivation, family, etc.
Some are self-motivated when they go to work. Some people work to make a living. Some are motivated to prove a point to others. And some are motivated by a loved one. They may have to pay for their child(ren)’s school tuition, medical bills, etc. These motivations push individuals to strive each day. By asking this question, you discover what values a person possess.
What is your most memorable experience at your job?
What excites them about their job…
This question usually would have a very passionate response. People enjoy sharing experiences that have left imprints on their lives. Whether or not the experience was negative or positive, it was memorable. It shows what situations attracts their attention.
Would you consider yourself positioned in your career or employed at a job?
Move up the ladder or change completely…
This question, although similar to the second question, can receive a different response. An individual may not be happy with the position they have. However, they may enjoy the field and plan to either be promoted or move up the ladder through other methods. Other methods may include entrepreneurship or obtaining a higher position by changing companies. This question allows you to understand where they feel they may be in their life.
How would you define active listening?
You’re able to understand their perspectives on listening and what they perceive to be active/effective listening.
How has listening enhanced your conflict-handling skills?
This question asks of their knowledge of listening and communication and shows how they apply it to their everyday life.
What is your favorite animal?
Insight of who they see themselves as
When a person chooses their favorite animal, the features are usually relatable to their own mannerism. This will enlighten the interviewer what type of person they may be. Although it is an enlightening question, it is also a fun question that ceases the tension of a professional interview.