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The Gift Of Listening And The Power Of Presence

ACCORDING TO THE INTERNATIONAL bestselling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr Stephen R Covey, most people listen not with the intent to understand, but the intent to reply. If you have your own agenda instead of giving someone else your full attention, you may be missing out on getting the most out of this powerful tool.

Recognised as one of TIME Magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, Stephen R. Covey was one of the world’s foremost leadership authorities, organisational experts and thought leaders. In my personal experience, his ideas could not be truer.

Many of us think we are really good listeners; we do all the right things; we make eye contact, nod and are seemingly engaged. But, more often than not, we are actually listening to our ‘internal voice’ that is agreeing, disagreeing, judging and assessing what the other person is saying.

Depending on the nature of the conversation, we are often also preparing our response, crafting our defence or sometimes completely distracted by our mental ‘to do’ list, including the bills we need to pay, the calls we have to return and the birthday card we’ve forgotten to buy.

The Gift of Listening is the ability to really ‘be over there’ with others; to have them feel that you are deeply engaged in what they are saying and interested in their perspective.

When we leave our own agendas or concerns behind, especially with respect to time we leave other people feeling valued, honoured and deeply appreciated. This simple act builds a good foundation for effective relating.

Whether you are a director, in sales, property management or administration, the Gift of Listening is a powerful way to deepen connection as it elicits trust. It is a brilliant tool to use, both internally with teams and externally with clients, stakeholders, families and communities.

Many of us have heard that it takes seven seconds to make a first impression. This means potential buyers have decided whether they like you, trust you and want to work with you, often before you’ve even had the chance to say ‘Hello’.

So how can we elevate our ability to connect, and what are the best ways to increase likeability? How can we increase the probability of successful listings and problem-solve effectively in property management?

Some 98 per cent of what we do stems from our subconscious, which is always trying to resolve tension. It is constantly sorting through our thoughts, feelings and physical state.

When we are worried we are in the past; if we are experiencing anxiety we are concerned for our future, yet all we can ever be is right here, right now. People can feel it when you are ‘with them’. International bestselling author Eckhart Tolle writes extensively about this in his acclaimed book The Power of Now.

The best way to be present is to dissolve the tension that exists in our subconscious. This is a powerful practice to do before a listing presentation, attending a meeting, calling an auction or phoning an upset tenant or landlord.

Step 1 Observe and acknowledge your thoughts. What you are thinking right now? Just stop and notice what’s on your mind. There is no need to attach to your thoughts, just witness them and release them.

Step 2 Observe andacknowledge how you feel. Stop right now?’ and take a moment to notice what’s obvious. Are you anxious, frustrated, happy, tired or stressed? Simply acknowledge your emotional landscape, breathe deeply and let it go.

Step 3 Acknowledge your physical body. Take your awareness to anywhere you feel tense or sore; perhaps you have an injury that you’re managing. Drop your shoulders, relax your belly, take a breath and let go.

This process sends a simple yet potent message to your subconscious that you have ‘witnessed’ the tension, therefore it doesn’t have to spend all its energy resolving it; it can simply be. This creates stillness and expands your state of presence.

Once you are present you are able to truly be with another. The Gift of Listening is the ability to listen beyond the content and tune into the deeper context the person is offering.

Layer 1 What the other person is saying, the actual words they are using.

Layer 2 What they are worried about – the things they want to avoid or are concerned about.

Layer 3 What they’d love, their desires, plans and dreams.

Most of the time we are not really listening; when we do respond we usually go straight to the second layer and unconsciously activate the concerns of others. You want to avoid doing this as it only amplifies their stress levels.

Really good communicators respond with empathy. International bestselling author and Ted Talk sensation Dr Brene Brown says that “empathy fuels connection and sympathy drives disconnection”. She highlights that there are four qualities to empathy.

  1. Perspective taking: the ability to take the perspective of another person and recognise their perspective as their truth.
  2. Staying out of judgment: this can be a hard one for many, as we like to be right.
  3. Recognising emotion inother people.
  4. Communicating the emotion back to others.

To demonstrate empathy and truly build connection you need to have others feel that they have been clearly heard by you. The way to achieve this is by‘reflecting’ what they’ve said. So when it comes to listening try this method.

Step 1 Show up and be present.

Step 2 Actively listen for what they’d love.

Step 3 Respond by first acknowledging what they’d love then come back to their concerns and reflect them with empathy.

Ultimately, be in the moment with others, for this moment is a gift; that’s why it’s called the present.

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Tanja M Jones

Tanja M Jones is a Leadership, Mindset and Peak Performance Specialist. For more information visit