Aristotle said, “Wisdom is the result of a lifetime of listening when we would have rather been talking.”
Being listened to is one our greatest desires and listening to someone else is one our greatest challenges. The fact that we were born with two ears and only one mouth should give us a clue to the importance of listening. Unfortunately, we were encouraged to talk from a very early age. For most of us, we haven’t stopped since!
I’ve come to realize that I am intrigued by this skill; mainly because I don’t do it well. (Just ask my kids!) But even more so because of the power it has to transform lives both personally and professionally.
I will start by recommending a book by the late Steve Shapiro, Listening for Success. I have read it several times, and every time I learn something new. My attempt here will be to outline and paraphrase what I have taken from this book. Hopefully this will help you in your personal and professional life as well.
The short version of what Steve teaches is 2 steps:
- “Ask” and 2. “Listen” It’s that simple; it’s just not easy. Ask with enthusiasm and listen with great intention. Or, as Steve puts it, “Shut up and stop talking so much!” The key element to grasp here is that you don’t need to solve anyone else’s problem. In fact, in many cases, the person you are listening to does not want their problem solved. They want to be heard. To really send this point home, he even goes on to say that when we attempt to solve someone else’s problem for them we actually minimize how they are feeling. We essentially tell them that our quick fix means that it was never really a very big problem in the first place. We devalue their feelings and discredit the seriousness of their situation. Ouch!
4 steps of listening include Attend, Acknowledge, Clarify, and Respond
The long version or “Multi-Level Listening Model” involves 4 steps including Attend, Acknowledge, Clarify, and Respond:
- Attend – To attend is to pay attention. This means putting down all handheld devices, turning off the television, sending the kids to bed or outside, and minimizing any other distractions. Even more difficult than that is quieting the noise in your mind. Our minds are always racing with thoughts like what we would rather be doing, what we’re eating for lunch, the meeting we have in an hour. Try to tune out whatever noise is still present in your mind that could keep you from truly attending to the person you are listening to. In fact, it is better to reschedule with this person for a time when you know you can give them your undivided attention rather than listening inattentively.
- Acknowledge – Steve says another word for this is “empathize.” When we empathize we do our best to understand where they are coming from or their position. Empathizing doesn’t mean having to agree with them. But it does show them we care for and respect them when we acknowledge their feelings. One of the best ways to do this is to pause. Simply take breath or two when they have finished before saying anything.
- Clarify – Understanding the information that has just been presented is vital in order for the relationship to grow. Be sure you clearly understand the message and they will feel cared for because you desire to understand them. Clarifying often starts with, “So if I understand you correctly…..” This gives the other person the opportunity to make sure their message was understood and gives you both the opportunity move forward. In conflict resolution, this is vital!
- Respond – Most of the time we go directly from Attend to Respond, but the two steps in between are where most of the work is. However, when you have employed both acknowledging and clarifying, your response is bound to be better than it would have been. You will know, because you were really paying attention, what kind of response is needed or warranted at this point. Your listener will be more receptive to hearing your response because they feel cared for and valued by you. This will put you on the road to a better relationship.
Practice makes perfect
Truly learning the art of listening doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice. Continue to remember these steps as you have your next conversation – personally or professionally.
I listen intently to my clients’ needs and goals so I can understand and empathize with their situations. Then I provide them with a plan to help them reach those goals. Let me know how I can help you and your loved ones with your real estate needs. Presto Real Estate Services | (630) 336-1820 | email@example.com.