Listening is one of the most important things a real estate agent can do. Only by truly listening do agents really know and comprehend what their clients are saying, what they’re not saying, what they want, what they need, and what they’re willing to do in order to get to their goal of buying or selling.

Unfortunately, most real estate agents, just like most people, do not truly listen to their clients.  We only selectively listen to them.  Rather than listen to most of or all that they are saying to us, we select and filter out, and often completely ignore most of what they’re saying.  Why? Because we are often too worried about what we’re going to say next!  The focus is too much on us and our needs to be heard or approved of, rather than their needs. We think their ideas and opinions are simply not aligned with ours and we don’t want to get involved in a potential confrontation with them, so we’re already thinking about how to combat those objections rather than listening to what they’re saying.  And sometimes, we’re just too tired to listen to one more person and we get lazy in our listening.

Whatever the reason(s) for not listening or only selectively listening to our clients, we all know how terrible and hurtful it feels to be tuned out and not listened to by someone else. As professionals, it is incumbent upon us to truly listen to all that our clients have to say, not just the parts we want to hear.

So, how do we as agents, and anyone else for that matter, improve our listening skills?  By making a conscious decision to actively listen with our brains, not just our ears.  To make sure that you’re actively listening and not wandering off into la-la land, practice repeating the points the client just made after they’ve finished speaking.  Use the phrase, “If I heard you correctly, you said you wanted…”  Repeating back what you’ve just heard not only helps tune you in, but also shows the client that you were listening.

The benefits of active listening as opposed to selective listening go well beyond accuracy (such as knowing that your clients want a home the country, not the city, with 2 bedrooms not 4, with beamed ceilings, not baroque moldings, etc.)  Active listening enables us to connect with our clients because they’ll know that we’ve heard them, to develop empathy with our clients because they’ll know they can trust us since we’ve heard actually them and to form relationships with our clients rather than their becoming just statistics in our quest to hit a sales number .