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You're Not Listening - by Kate Murphy

Charles Cherney

Passionate about teaching after graduating from Harvard, I ultimately found myself drawn into the world of real estate in Cambridge and Somerville...

Passionate about teaching after graduating from Harvard, I ultimately found myself drawn into the world of real estate in Cambridge and Somerville...

Jun 20 4 minutes read

You're Not Listening (2020) is by journalist Kate Murphy. Murphy notes, "As a journalist, I listen for a living, and, increasingly, I noticed that people I interviewed seemed surprised, almost taken aback, that I was actually paying attention to what they said. They began telling me profoundly personal things, wholly unrelated to the stories I was writing, as if they’d been long waiting for the opportunity. And these were very successful, well-connected people—not lacking for company, but apparently lacking for listeners. They would always thank me for listening, and also often apologize for unloading. It happened with such regularity, it made me think this was something worth investigating."

Indeed, it seems that there's not a whole lot of listening going on. And that's too bad! Because listening is so important.

As a real estate agent, I find that listening is essential to successful outcomes. It is important for me to listen to my buyer and seller clients. And it's important for me to listen as well to everyone involved in the transaction.

Below are three quotes from You're Not Listening that really stood out to me, followed by a few of my own thoughts.

The idea that listening is more valuable than speaking is hard for many people to comprehend because so few people practice listening. Talking-talking-talking or its opposite - tuning out - are much more common. We all know something about those realities. Myself, I used to give listing presentations. These days, I go on listing consultation appointments. On these visits with prospective seller clients, I aim to do a lot of active listening. Same goes when I am connecting with buyer clients. Listening is so important!

Listening is about more than hearing someone. It's about understanding the person on some level and developing a sense for what they are feeling. In a real estate transaction, sometimes the buyer and seller get hung up on a small matter. A buyer client might say they are prepared to walk away if the washer and dryer are not included in the sale. Hearing that, I might discover upon talking further with the buyer that they are really nervous about overpaying. If that is how they are feeling, best for me to review again with them my valuation analysis  and go over once more the buyer's timeline for owning the residence. Having listened, I need to respond in an appropriate fashion to help the client better know their mind and arrive at what likely is the right decision for them.

Curiosity is key! Listening ultimately is about taking a genuine interest in the other person without an agenda. That means focusing on and paying attention to the other person. Not looking at your cell phone. And not following unrelated thoughts running through your head. Rather, giving the other person you are communicating with your complete and undivided and unbiased attention. With this approach, where the conversation goes and what you say will depend on what the other person says. It will unfold naturally and be worthwhile if you are truly listening.

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