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The Value of Listening: Advice From One Real Estate Agent to Another

A typical real estate agent spends 80-90% of their precious time chasing online leads, conducting marketing, networking, pushing services, and sending mass-canned emails. Perhaps agents should be listening? 

The following is an excerpt from the book REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate to help agents understand the value of listening:

“A wise old owl lived in an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke.
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?”
– unknown

Conventional wisdom would say that real estate is no place for shyness...

We’re trained to ask probing questions, be prepared with follow-up responses, and we usually end up with much more output than input. All in an effort to avoid that painful word: No.

We avoid that word.

It hurts.

Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts. This is how the tribe enforced obedience, by wielding the threat of expulsion. Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. It’s in our cells.

So for me, early in my career, the act of cold-calling and knocking on doors was not only unpleasant – it was like fighting with myself at a molecular level.

To add to that, I’m from Arizona – not exactly known as one of the more outgoing places. People are polite and nice, but I believe due to the nomadic nature of the state, most keep to themselves. So when my family moved to Colorado and we took our first walk through the neighborhood and someone said, “Hi, how are you doing? Any plans this weekend?” I looked at my kids and said under my breath, “Why is she talking to us?”

To tap an old cliché, “We have one mouth and two ears for a reason.”

An important developmental milestone is the ability to speak. However, listening is an equally if not more important skill that is often overlooked by parents, educators, and, of course, zealous real estate trainers.

"Changing the way we have conversations with people is not an easy feat to accomplish and change is hard, but it’s the foundation of where connections are built." twitter icon 2

Certainly, we are taught to listen to (mind) our parents and to listen in school. However, few of us are taught the active, disciplined skill to examine the information we hear rather than picking up ‘clues’ to formulate a response or think of our own goals while someone else talks. Active listening improves the quality and quantity of information we comprehend, and thereby improves our decision making.

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well intentioned words. ”

- Rachel Naomi Remen

Look at the average agent in our industry. A typical agent spends 80-90% of their precious time chasing clients, conducting marketing, talking about themselves, pushing services, and sending mass canned email. Perhaps agents should be listening?

We live in wonderful times. People are sharing their lives on social media. Thanks to sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, we can follow their lives as they unfold. If we listen, they’ll tell us:

  • When their kids win a sports game
  • When they change jobs or get a promotion
  • What their favorite foods are

Changing the way we have conversations with people is not an easy feat to accomplish and change is hard, but it’s the foundation of where connections are built.

About The Book

REAL book coverMost real estate books fall short. REAL goes beyond mere tactics and strategies to focus on the core of what really matters - You. In addition to the authors' lessons learned, this book also includes contributions from some of real estate's most influential thought leaders: Marc Davison, Spencer Rascoff, Sherry Chris, Krisstina Wise, and many more.

If building a real estate business that lasts is important to you, this is a book you surely won't want to miss!


Dave Crumby

Dave is the Chairman of Firepoint / Realvolve, a state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) platform built expressly for real estate agents. Dave began his real estate career as an agent in 1996. Dave authored in 2013 the book titled 'REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate’ that has since become a best seller. The book features Dave's experience and the wisdom of other successful real estate leaders, such as the CEOs of Zillow, Trulia, Better Homes and Gardens, and many others.


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