Did you ever forget what someone just told you because you were busy planning in your mind what you were going to say next?
Well, join the club! We are all human, and for some reason, the human mind seems to drift into this habit until we practice and make a new habit out of "active listening."
Here is the text book definition from Wikipedia:
"Active listening is an intent to "listen for meaning." Active listening requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they heard. The ability to listen actively can improve personal relationships through reducing conflicts, strengthening cooperation, and fostering understanding."
When talking amongst ourselves, we justifiably vent about clients who do not listen, brokers who do not listen, and even our children who do not listen. How often do we really stop to think about our own listening ability? I'm not judging some of the venting blogs this week. They just got me thinking. Especially since I started thinking of one of my own experiences before I had finished reading the blog! I was interrupting my own reading with thoughts of what to say next. I realized it was time to focus again on "active listening." I don't know about you, but for me, it is something I have to focus on daily.
My first experience with this had to do with remembering names. I had resigned myself to the belief that I was just bad with names. Tired of confusing people, I decided to make a point of remembering everyone's name that I met. I had to focus during conversations and then try to make a point of using the name I had just learned immediately when speaking with the person. Low and behold...it worked!
My best real estate experience with this was actually when I was a buyer and not an agent. Many years ago, my family had very specific needs for a home to include members of our extended family. I spent an hour each with the first 2 Realtors we used explaining what we were looking for and why. Both proceeded to try to show us oodles of homes that did not meet our needs. The last Realtor we tried, spoke with us in detail for only 15 minutes. He called back a week later with three homes for us to look at. Each one of them met ALL of our requirements. We picked one that very day and lived there happily for 6 years.
What did he have that the others didn't? The skills needed to actually listen to people, ask questions to clarify, and even re-state what was just said to be absolutely sure that he understood what he heard.
The next time you have a conversation, see if you can catch yourself planning out your next line while someone else is talking.....or maybe it's just me :)