Listening 101

Having spent most of my working career in the sales industry, I am insulted by the old saying, “he could sell a snow cone to an eskimo”. Think about that eskimo for a minute. Do you think the eskimo would experience a level of buyer’s remorse? Do you think the eskimo felt his needs were heard and understood by the salesperson? Most importantly, do you think (1) the eskimo would return to the salesperson for future snow cones and/or (2) would the eskimo make a recommendation to his/her other eskimo friends who may experience snow cone needs? Effective communication is one of the most important life skills.  You spend so many of your grade school years learning how to read, write, and speak. But what about listening?  Most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. You listen as you prepare in your mind what you are going to say. You filter everything you hear through your life experiences, your frame of reference. You check what you hear in your autobiography and see how you relate.. Consequently, you decide prematurely what the other person means before they finish communicating. For the Stephen Covey fans out there, you probably see I’m headed towards Habit 5 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek First to Understand, then be Understood”. So think back to those years of reading, writing, and speaking. And humor me with a quick lesson in listening. Here are a few quick tips on practicing some active listening skills. First, provide eye contact. Avoid looking around the room, at other people, or worse… your phone. Let that person feel they are more important than the ‘Best of’ social media posts from your virtual friends.  Unless it’s crucial to get clarification at that moment, don’t interrupt while others are talking. Let them finish their thoughts before you present any of your own. Whether you’re in person or on a video conference call, leaning forward indicates interest and helps keep you focused on what is being said. Ask questions. In addition to showing attentiveness, questions can help you clarify points and gain understanding. Repeating what has been said can also show that you’ve heard and understood the points being made.While someone else is talking, it’s easy to jump ahead and start thinking about what you will say when your turn comes. However, this can distract you from learning important points or even give the impression that you’re not listening. Leaving a gap in the conversation can help you make sure that the other person is done speaking and can give you time to process what you just heard. Jumping in too quickly may cut the other person off and give the impression that you’re rushing through the discussion.Finally, restate what you heard to ensure your understanding was their intention. Remember, there is a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth. You can’t learn anything while you’re talking.

Until next week, love where you live.  And if you don’t… contact your local REALTOR®.

Brian Haufe, 2022 MBOR President