Many real estate professionals are natural-born extroverts, able to make conversation with just about anyone—a trait that certainly comes in handy in any sales job. But when it comes to meaningful connections, talking is only part of the equation. Mindful, attentive listening lies at the heart of connecting with others on a personal level, and it could lead to a booming real estate business over time.
In his legendary book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey suggests the first step in communication is to hear and understand others before trying to get your own point across. This is especially important when disagreements arise, but it has broader applications in ordinary encounters as well. It’s easy to assume you know what your customers need and want, especially if you’ve helped dozens of clients in similar situations, but every client is unique. For example, you might meet an elderly couple who reminds you of your parents. It would be easy to make all sorts of assumptions about their financial situation or their lifestyle preferences based on your personal biases, but do your best to begin every interaction with an open mind and a blank slate.
Mindful listening isn’t always easy, especially when you consider the hundreds of items (work-related and otherwise) competing for your attention in a single day. It may be tempting to think about last night’s PTA meeting while your client shares her hopes and dreams, but staying present is doable with a little practice. Begin by cultivating a sincere curiosity about your clients, their lives, their passions, and whatever inspires them to get out of bed in the morning. Forging an emotional connection with your clients makes it easier to listen to them without getting distracted, and your genuine concern for their needs will likely engender trust.
You may not have something in common with every client, but we all share certain basic human drives that unite us as a species. Psychologist Abraham Maslow broke down those basic human drives when he identified a hierarchy of human needs, which included safety, belonging, self-esteem, and accomplishment. If you can identify what motivates your clients—not just in terms of real estate, but in terms of their overall life goals—it can go a long way toward securing that emotional connection allowing you to listen more mindfully.
Forging a deeper connection with your clients can make your job more enjoyable, and it just may impact your bottom line. How so? Studies have repeatedly shown that patients are more satisfied with and less likely to sue their doctors if they liked them, and those likable doctors spend time listening to their clients and connecting with them on an emotional level. Although nobody has conducted a similar study with real estate professionals, common sense tells us that people are more forgiving of those they trust, and we all know that satisfied clients can lead to more business—whether through referrals or repeat sales!