The following is a guest post by Justin Bryan one of our Aspire Multifamily Scholarship recipients
Many of us grew up listening to our elders saying, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak” or you might have heard, “Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf.” What they were teaching us is that we learn more by listening than we do by talking. You might have heard them, but were you listening? Let’s make sure we understand that “hearing” and “listening” are two different things. Hearing is the ability to hear sound, listening on the other hand, is the understanding, interpreting, and assessing what is being said. You have to pay particular attention to what is being said, not what you think you hear.
By asking your prospective residents and then listening, your prospects will tell you what their needs, problems, desires and interests are and how to meet those needs. Effective listening provides valuable information to help build a relationship, sometimes a close and personal relationship, with your prospective and future resident. It makes the prospect feel heard, understood, respected, appreciated, and part of a community. It can not be said any louder, People love to feel listened to! Listening makes people feel special! Just imagine how valuable you, or your leasing agent will be if you are the only person in their lives that listens!!
Concentrate not only on what the prospective resident is saying, but also the attitude or motives behind the words. Relying on words alone is like trying to work a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. You get the general idea, but there are gaps you can’t fill. Words alone may not always contain the entire message. The tone or volume of voice may have meaning, so may facial expressions, gestures and body movements. Being alert to these nonverbal cues is also a part of listening.
Don’t assume you already know everything the prospect or resident wants to tell you. If you start to catch yourself interrupting your prospects or residents, be humble enough to apologize and let the person finish. Interrupting and finishing a speaker’s sentences often times damages communication. Make sure they have finished conveying their message before you speak.
Then sometimes it’s difficult to pay attention fully. But by your actions, you show the prospect or resident you are genuinely interested and want to listen. If you aren’t sure of the message they are trying to convey, ask them to repeat or clarify. No one thinks exactly as you do, so their method of communicating and the terms they use won’t be exactly like yours e.g. a two-two versus a two bedroom two bath. Paraphrase what they are saying back to them in your own words so you will both have a clear understanding.
While listening is often overlooked in leadership training, it may be just the most important leadership skill to obtain. A skill rarely taught, one that takes its own attention to detail, and one that we all need to practice continuously. Remember that great listeners who become great leaders learn that the less they talk, the more they make, and they also learn how to say less to more people.
I have a challenging task for you. Starting today, dare yourself to focus on what you hear in your clubhouse or offices. You just may be surprised. Please share any experiences that you have or had with prospects or residents. What tips or advice do you have for others in the multifamily industry that will help improve mastering the art of listening? I want to hear from all of my fellow multifamily industry insiders.
Written by Justin Bryan–Follow me on Twitter