As I mentioned in Learning from what happens, every customer has an unfulfilled dream. When that dream is understood by the seller, the customer feels powerful and can act decisively. The value the customers experience runs deep and overrides their hesitation. They are sold on the purchase in ways they cannot explain.
Henry Ford didn't ask "what do you want?" because people would have said "faster horses". Customers cannot want what has not yet been invented. Their options preclude innovative, futuristic and breakthrough possibilities.
We also get into trouble "asking for the dream of our customers" because we all harbor conflicting desires. We say we want things that get us approval, appease our critics and justify our preferences. We really want experiences that contradict those desires and come from a deeper place. We don't really know who we are, where we come from or what our destiny might be. We really want things on that unknown basis. We cannot be deeply satisfied with what will "keep up appearances of respectability".
Some real estate brokers operate on the premise that "buyers are liars". These brokers have learned the hard way from dissatisfied home buyers. What the clients say they want is not what they really want. Selling works with both the conscious reasoning and unconscious mind of the customers. They ask the clients what kind of house and which kind of neighborhood they want. They then tour houses that are the same as those desires, the complete opposite and several in-between options.
Usually the customers show no interest in the kind of house they said they want. Their conscious mind does not know it's own unconscious desires. (That's what "unconscious" means) The opposite house to their stated desires thrills the customer on inspection. The home and neighborhood provides decades of satisfaction if they have the wisdom to trust their feelings and buy it.
Asking learners what they want poses this same challenge. What they say they want is very misleading. Their actions speak louder than words. Their true desires are revealed through their outbursts, objections, reactions and initiatives. When learners are obviously unhappy with what or how they are being taught, they are experiencing some deep seated satisfaction. When learners are complaining and reacting to instruction, they really want the battle game they are playing. When learners are filled with curiosity and gratitude, their conscious desires and deep ambitions are congruent.
When we learn to read the signs, we can stop taking customers at their word. Instead of pandering to their stated preferences, we can see what they really want as it's revealed in their actions. We can serve the deeper dream of the customer and create enduring value.