Our ability to listen is critical to achieve practical empathy. If we cannot listen in a deep and meaningful way, we will never understand our prospective clients well enough to earn their trust and therefore their business.
Much has been written about listening and I have developed this simple three level model to help you build this critical skill if you want to Move More People.
Level 1 or ‘Common Listening”
Here as the listener your focus is on yourself and your own thoughts rather than the speaker. As the speaker is talking you interpret what you hear in terms of what it means to you. This is normal everyday conversation where it is natural as the listener to gather information to help you form opinions and make decisions.
Generally, as a good salesperson you will not be listening at this level, after all it isn’t about you, it is about your client and their needs.
Level 2 or ‘Listening to Understand’
As a listener operating at level 2 you are focusing totally on the speaker, listening to their words, tone of voice, and body language. You are not distracted by your own thoughts and feelings. As a good salesperson you will be using this level of listening in your communications where the purpose of gathering information is solely for the benefit of your client rather than you. By listening at level 2 you can get a real understanding of where the client is ‘coming from’. The client will feel understood and your own thoughts will not influence the flow of information.
Level 3 or ‘Listen Like a Sage”
This involves the listener focusing on the speaker and picking up more than what is being said. You will be listening to everything available using intuition, picking up on emotions and sensing signals from your client’s body language. You can gauge the energy of your client and their emotions as well as picking up what they are not saying. You will understand what they are thinking and feeling trusting your own senses, being extremely responsive to the needs of your client, and knowing what question to ask next.
Here is an exercise to help you master this skill:
You’ll need a partner for this and it can be a real estate colleague or a friend. Sit down together and have your partner tell you a simple story of an experience they have had recently. Deliberately listen at level I the first time through. Now you share an experience with them. After you have each have had a turn at level I, do the same exercise but this time listen at level II. Finally repeat a third time trying to use some level III listening. Take a few minutes at the end to discuss what was different for the both the speaker and for the listener.
Harvard Business Review Blog: The Discipline of Listening
Forbes: 10 Steps to Effective Listening