Have you ever been talking with someone and you knew—you just knew—that they were not actually listening? Maybe the other individual wasn’t looking at you or maybe that person was checking text messages while you were telling a story or sharing some information.
It’s a little bit frustrating when this happens. If you’re like me, you continue talking in hopes that the other person is really paying attention to you. But, often they’re not.
According to study reported in Interplay: The Process of Interpersonal Communication, adults spend about 70 percent of their time communicating with others; of this about 45 percent is spent as a listener. But listening is not the like hearing. Many of us have acute hearing skills; we can hear a high-pitched note or a whisper. But, are you truly listening? Are people really listening to you?
One key factor to success in real estate—regardless of the market—is strong listening skills. Agents who are great listeners are more productive and close more deals because they better understand the needs of the customer and what is expected of them.
Five Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills
For many people, effective listening is something that needs to be learned. With a lot of distractions around us in modern society, we often tend to tune people out instead of tuning them in.
- Pay Attention. Paying attention to those who are speaking is a key step to effective listening. A good listener must be both physically and mentally ready to pay attention.
This may mean adjusting the body in a certain way or making eye contact—allowing the individual your undivided attention. Paying attention also means turning off your idle thoughts, such as thoughts about a phone call you need to make or an email you need to send.
- Demonstrate That You Are Listening. Visual cues will reveal to the other person that you are listening. You can lean in, tilt your head, and even nod in recognition. The idea is not just to listen, but also to encourage your client or prospect though your gestures.
Focus on the speaker’s words and body language. This will help you in recognizing the speaker’s feelings. Try to find a nod of approval and you can save that information for use when showing additional properties or closing the sale.
- Translate What You’ve Seen and Heard. Take in everything you have seen and heard and create your meaning. Ask open-ended questions to ensure that you actually understood the information the right way. For example, “You say that you like Tudor homes? Can you identify a few that you definitely like?”
When you give the client a chance to rephrase a thought more precisely, you will have a better picture of exactly what he or she wants.
- Non-Verbal Communication. Aside from focusing on the meaning of the words spoken, you’ll also have to understand the non-verbal cues you observed. Was the body language, the tone of voice, and the words all agree? Or, did the words say yes, but the body say no?
In a business relationship, some individuals feel a little bit uncomfortable about revealing their honest thoughts. That’s why it’s important to observe to other cues. These non-verbal gestures and actions show inner ideas, mindsets, and sentiments that may not have been expressed vocally.
- Rephrasing. Another component of effective listening is verifying your understanding. To do that you can paraphrase, or reword what you heard and observed. For instance, you can say, “It seems that you really like a kitchen with granite countertops and a double oven, preferably of stainless steel.”
When you paraphrase, you demonstrate that you are really interested about the hobbies of the speaker.
As a real estate professional, it is important for you to connect with clients, potential customers, and associates. After all, you don’t want them to feel as if a text message, an incoming call, and even the person down the hall is more important. When you demonstrate that you are listening, it aids to cement relationships, to learn and, as a result, to close more real estate transactions.