Chapter 2: The Neuroscience of Listening


Over the thousands of interviews I’ve conducted, I’ve found that customers we interview tend to become our most vocal supporters. The customers we’ve interviewed go on to be the ones who passionately share the word in their networks. The customers we’ve interviewed are the most likely to offer to do a testimonial, even without us asking.

Most of us are so used to being ignored by companies that when we find one that listens to us—and genuinely listens to us—it’s startlingly refreshing. It makes people want to go out of their way to see that company succeed.

There is a deeper neurological reason why this happens.

According to functional magnetic resonance imaging brain studies, parts of the brain associated with motivation, reward, and enjoyment light up when people talk about themselves and their experiences with another person.1

Being listened to makes people feel happy, and the person talking associates those positive feelings with the person and concept they’re talking about. In the case of a customer interview, that means those happy feelings get transferred to you and in turn, your company.

The mere act of listening alone is powerful. I want you to remember that study when you find yourself wondering whether you’re asking the right questions, your interviews are long enough, or whether you’re analyzing them in the right way. (Later on, we’ll address each of those concerns.)

Just listening to customers alone has benefits for you and your company. Even if you do nothing with what you’ve learned afterward.