I once heard a speaker at a conference declare to the crowd, "You were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Use them in proportion."
Most in the crowd laughed, many nodded, and some even wrote it down. As funny as the statement was, it was very profound. In most relationships whether business or personal, when something starts to break down it is often a failure in communication that causes the rocky road.
Sitting in a hotel room and guiltily watching "Love it or List it" and the "Property Brothers", it was apparent that the skill of listening is so vital in successful real estate relationships.
Show after show had potential buyers and sellers having discussions with their agents describing their needs, wants, don't wants, and downright fears. Often, we could see frustrations rise as it was obvious that the communication was not effective.
Sometimes, it seemed that the agent just did not understand the clients' requests. A comment such as "we really don't like our fireplace", was interpreted as "this couple doesn't like this ugly fireplace, so I will show them homes with a different style of fireplace." But in this example, the couple didn't like any fireplace as they had young children and did not want one at all.
Another example was a mother of three busy and athletic-minded boys, along with a coach-husband, almost pleading for "more space" for her to be happy. So the agent went looking for a bigger and therefore presumably better house. After much searching, the family stayed in their home after a redesign that simply gave her more useful and private space to escape the madness that the sports-dominated household had created.
What did we learn from watching these shows with their frustrated buyers, sellers, agents and designers? That active listening and effective communication, as is so often the case, did not occur and the breakdown caused unnecessary frustration for all involved.
If only the professionals involved had used active listening techniques, things might have gone more smoothly.
- Clarifying statements such as "What I hear you saying is...." and then repeating back what the speaker said (or at least what you heard said). This ensures both sides understand the message.
- Then asking a big question that seems to escape many - "Why do you want ....?" This will get to the root of the statement. Often people will not tell you the entire story and you need to know where they are coming from. Different cultures and life experiences create vastly different messages even using the same words.
- And if you are still not clear, asking more questions to ensure understanding.
But effective communication is not a one-way street. It is also incumbent upon the speaker to ensure that there is clarity and honesty. It is not sufficient to assume that the professionals working with you "get" what you are trying to say. It is critical to be totally honest, even if the conversation gets uncomfortable. It means ensuring you find a way to be understood.
On these reality shows, we almost always find a happy face at the end. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that we don't get to see. But in real life these situations that are so full of emotions, often turn into frustration.
So often things can go sideways without good communication. Assumptions hurt everyone. Some people are more comfortable with straightforward discussions than others.
I remember hearing a traveller who was clearly struggling with understanding say "I understand all the words you are using, just not how you are putting them all together." Now throw professional lingo into the mix and things can get interesting fast. Our personalities and life experiences will skew our communication.
A lot of rising temperatures can be lowered on both sides through honest communication and effective listening.