Nugget For The Noggin
The Keller Williams Listening Rock
Article by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown
Stephen Coven in his CD series, “Beyond The 7 Habits” talks about an old American Indian communication technique called a “Talking Stick”. It is a very simplistic technique involving a stick. The person who is doing the talking MUST have the stick. The person being talked to is not permitted to utter one word until the stick has been passed to them. This causes the person to really listen to what is being said and the person with the stick fully understands that it is the other person’s job to listen. What’s more, the person knows that when he or she relinquishes the stick, it becomes their turn to be the listener!
Habit Number 5 of the 7 Habits is “Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood”. The American Indian's use of the “talking stick” helped to achieve this basic principle of effective communication. One person would talk and the other would listen and absorb what was being said. Then the roles would be reversed and the talker would become the listener and the listener the talker. How difficult can that be?
Be honest, do you not agree that most of the problems we encounter in life and in business are the result of a lack of EFFECTIVE communication; communication that REQUIRES one person to talk and another to listen? But in business, most of us have either been taught or we think we know that to be successful we need to be the one doing the talking. We truly believe that in order to sell, we must be talking (presenting) and to be a "typical" Real Estate Agent that is probably true. But what defines a successful Real Estate Agent?
At this writing there are well over 800,000 members of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). The 80/20 rule applies, meaning that 80% or about 640,000 associates are doing only 20% of all the business. That also means that only 160,000 are doing 80% of the business. To put that number into perspective, divide 160,000 by 50 (states) and that means fewer than 3200 people throughout each state (on average) are doing about 80% of all sales within the state. There are over 3000 licensed agents just in the city of New Orleans!
If you want to be a really successful Real Estate Consultant, you can only become one when you learn to listen. To be able to listen several things must occur. First there must be a customer (lead generation). Then there must be a need (needs analysis). Then one person must initiate the communication and unless you are asking questions, there is no compelling reason for the customer to respond. Therefore, QUESTIONS are the key to your success followed immediately by becoming an effective LISTENER. One without the other is meaningless and the root cause of almost all misunderstanding and eventual problems. Zig Ziglar says, “We are born with two ears and one mouth and we should therefore listen twice as much as we talk!” Or as I say, “You do the math!”
I personally think the Indians had it backwards. I believe that to be an effective communicator and to get YOUR position expressed, you MUST first become an effective LISTENER! You must learn to not only HEAR what is being said, but also to understand WHAT is being said and WHERE the other person’s ideas originate. Therefore instead of using a “stick” to signify who has the authority to speak, I believe we should consider who has the “rock” and the BURDEN or RESPONSIBILITY to listen. And, just as the “talking stick” gave the outward signal that the person has the floor, or the right to speak, the rock signifies that the it is the person’s responsibility to listen and not to speak until they are relieved of the burden of the task or in this case, the rock.
The “talking stick” or the “listening rock”, are simple metaphors to signify a responsibility of the person holding them. When you are engaged in effective communications, the burden, at least to me, is obviously placed upon the listener, not the speaker. There is no communication if no one is listening. The act of listening is extremely important to the process. But the ability of the listener to decipher, adapt and understand is even more crucial. Synergy occurs when two people with differing or opposing viewpoints ultimately create something greater because two people used their joint efforts to resolve any disagreements that provide mutually acceptable solutions. It is NOT a matter of compromising; it IS all about working together to create a Win-Win solution. Oftentimes the solution could not be discovered with only one person working alone on the problem. Two heads ARE greater than one! If we apply the Keller Williams belief system to this situation, we must Communicate – seek first to understand. Be Creative – ideas before results. Then enjoy the results of Teamwork – together everyone achieves more! This all results in a Win-Win; or it truly is no deal! This is the Keller Williams WI4C2TS at its finest!
The next time you are working with a customer, engaged in a discussion with a co-worker or a competitor or a member of your family, imagine holding the big, heavy Keller Williams Listening Rock in your hand and avoid speaking until such time as you are convinced the other person has finished. Then and ONLY THEN, is it YOUR turn to speak. Imagine passing the rock to the other person and it is then their turn to become the effective listener. And remember this crucial point, people tend to respond in the manor that you expect them to. Therefore, since you have a choice, expect them to be an effective listener encouraged by the way you had been an effective and intent listener to them. People simply rise to your level of expectations of them. Then when you are sure you are finished speaking and you had an opportunity to get your point across, imagine asking for the rock back before you engage in any further conversation.
I also believe, that to make this as effective as possible, the mental rock must be BIG and it must be HEAVY (and it would help if it were also RED) because most burdens are BIG and HEAVY. Being an effective listener should be a burden or responsibility upon you, listening does NOT come naturally, you must work on it.