When we know we're making a difference in other people's lives, it keeps us going through the hard parts.

My four year old son was riding in the car with us last night, and we were talking about his favorite cartoon, "Yo-Kai Watch." It's one of those shows that was a video game first and was clearly created to sell more merchandise. But, whatever: I had Strawberry Shortcake back in the day. 

Anyway, in every episode, the main character meets creatures that must be defeated by either "negotiation or confrontation." Seriously--that's how they phrase it in the kid's show. So now my four-year-old knows what "negotiation" and "confrontation" mean. As a self-confessed word nerd, I couldn't be more proud. 

So we asked him, "which one do you think is better: negotiation or confrontation?"

He said, "negotiation, because talking is better than fighting, because when you fight you can hurt someone."

Wow, I thought. Maybe all those sibling rivalry moments when I marched him to his room before he choked the living crap out of his little brother are starting to sink in.

"It's wonderful to hear you say that, bud." I told him. "How did you get to be so clever?"

He smiled at the praise and then suddenly got uncharacteristically earnest. "It's because I get timeouts and we talk about when I make bad choices like hitting instead of talking when I'm mad. Hey...maybe timeouts are teaching me something after all!"

Whoa. My husband and I looked at each other, our eyes wide with amazement. This was the kind of feedback that as parents you don't dare to expect. At least not until your kids have their own kids and they finally get it.

But here my kid is, 4 years old, and totally getting it. And letting us know we're making a difference.

Can you imagine the huge sense of validation this has inspired in me as a mother? Until this exchange, I had been fumbling around in the pitch black cave of parenting, not sure if my "timeout & talk" approach has been harmful or helpful, worried that I was either scarring him emotionally with forced isolation indulging his tantrums with attention. With his words, my son held up a torch and said "keep doing what you're doing, mama! You've got this!"

And now I know what direction to move in. Now that I see the difference I'm making, I have the confidence to do more.

What's your pitch black cave where you could use some illumination? Is it a beta version of a new app? A lead magnet people have been downloading? A course you've been selling? A blog you've been pouring your heart into?

You may have metrics on web traffic or shares or conversions, but the numbers can't tell you the story of the impact your content is making on people.

For that, you're going to need to reach out and ask for feedback.

So here's my challenge to you this week:

Email or call your leads & customers and ask: how has my product or service helped you?

Don't ask using a survey or a form or anything that sends the message to your customer that she's part of the masses. This isn't about gathering data: this is about building relationships and your personal capacity to do more.

Just have a conversation. Ask for his or her story. The fact that you're not only willing to listen, but that you care about his or her success, will instantly build trust.

Record what they tell you. Not only can it give you brilliant material for social proof on sales content, it can inspire ideas for new content and help pump you up whenever you're wondering if all the work you've been doing is worth it.

Man, do I wish I could have recorded our conversation in the car with my son...I could play it for him every time he whines about having to go to timeout! I could play it for myself while I sit outside the door to his room, second-guessing myself while I listen to him howling in protest.

So now it's time for me to hear the story we're building together: if you've read any of my articles, downloaded one of my checklists or worksheets, or have engaged in my services, what difference have I been making for you? What keeps you following me? What would you like to see more or less of?

Just send me a quick email:

Alaura.weaver@gmail.com or tweet me: @WordWeaverFree

I'm looking forward to hearing about you, your goals, and what I can do to help you get there.

Listening + caring = trust + motivation = lasting relationships

Listening + caring = trust + motivation = lasting relationships