|This article was published on: 03/01/2008|
Avoid Common Mistakes of Novice Listeners
We’re all guilty of multitasking when we should be paying attention to what our clients are saying. Learn how to better serve your clients’ needs with active listening.
I’m throwing down the gauntlet. No one listens anymore!
Be honest with yourself (and me). How often do you really stop thinking about the other things in your life and just listen to what is going on in front of you? Not very often, I’d wager.
We’re constantly multitasking these days. We’ll watch TV, surf the Web, and talk on the phone — all at the same time. We’ll have a conversation with our client while reviewing our e-mail.
We’re just not tuned in to the communications we’re having. But the problem with this approach is that we miss a lot.
For example, we are too busy thinking about our next appointment to notice that our client flinched when we mentioned having to look at another town over so that they could afford what they wanted. We were too busy formulating our answer to the seller’s anticipated objection to the price to notice that he just mumbled something about needing enough net to pay us.
If you’ve ever had a client disappear or get angry at you out of the blue, then guess what? You probably weren’t listening. So many cues are available to us that there is no good reason why we shouldn’t know what is going on with our clients if we are paying attention.
The biggest complaint from buyers and sellers (other than not returning phone calls)? Their real estate professional didn’t listen! Don’t be that person. Here are some tips on how to improve your listening skills.
1. Focus on your client and nothing else.
I know — in this world of many inputs, reducing our bandwidth to a single source can be a challenge, but you can do it. Make it into a game.
2. Listen carefully to what your client is saying.
There are three parts to any conversation: content, context, and subtext. If you don’t take all three into account, you could be missing valuable cues about what your client is saying.
3. Don’t wait to talk.
Don’t formulate your response until you are done listening! One of the biggest mistakes people make in listening is that they stop halfway through to formulate their response. If you are thinking about what you are going to say, then you’re not listening and that doesn’t do anyone any good. Listen until the other person is done. Then, decide how to respond.
4. Practice active listening.
Reflect back what you have heard and acknowledge that you heard it. If you want someone to listen to you, then you need to prove that you are both listening to and understanding the person — both the text and the subtext of the person’s meaning.
In other words, if your clients have just told you that they need to hear from you more often and they sound frustrated, then it’s time to say something like, “I’m so sorry you’re feeling left out of the loop. Let’s figure out together how often you want to hear from me so that you feel we are communicating effectively.” And an apology is always in order if someone is upset, even if the apology is just, “I’m so sorry you’re upset.”
Did You Listen?
Being a good listener is hard work at first. But if you work at it, eventually, it becomes second nature. And if you practice it with your clients, you’ll find that they really appreciate it. (Your significant other and/or children also will really appreciate it!)
Think about it. When was the last time someone really listened to you and that you felt truly heard? I’m betting it’s been awhile. And that’s true for most people. So you give them the gift of your attention, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to turn your clients into raving fans. So tune in.
More Sales Coach Columns
Sales & Marketing Main Page
More Sales Coach Columns