Has anyone heard the acrostic, W.A.I.T.? Why Am I Talking? It’s the question to ask in dealing with clients and especially in negotiations. Unfortunately I forget this too often. Ugh.
Last Monday while speaking with an investor on the phone I had a gut wrenching interaction. While I consider myself a decent listener and business professional, this man did not. We had a dialogue where we found ourselves butting in on each other’s train of thought. He wanted to explain to me what I already knew, and I wanted to him to save his breath. He finally called me out on it by literally saying, “You’re not being very professional by not letting me finish a sentence… and I’m calling you out on it!” He repeated this idea and phrase several more times to make his point. Mind you, I’ve never met this man in person and have only had a few short interactions with him on the phone where I felt like I expedited his requests and was able to prove my business savvy many times over. When he said this to me, my instance reaction was to retaliate and defend myself and tell him why he was misinformed. Thankfully I at least had the wherewithal to not blurt out everything I was thinking. We ended the conversation with me simply saying, “I hear you.”
I’m not sure he was satisfied with this response and really, I was haunted by this conversation for the next few days. In contemplation I simply heard, “Your listening skills have gone downhill due to your impatience.” In other words, I needed to swallow my pride about thoughts of being right and misunderstood, etc., etc., etc. I began to realize how universal this lesson is, whether it be with a client, my wife or children, friends, etc. How can I truly represent a client who I am bulldozing with my driving sense of intolerance for those who feel the need to “talk it out”?
Two days later…. I had a phone dialogue with an owner of a property that I manage. It started out with him saying, “I’m glad you called because there are a number of items I’m extremely unhappy about.” This time I was ready. Inwardly I kept repeating, “Just listen, just listen, just listen…” After over a half an hour on the phone listening and patiently addressing each item on his list, (which I found out later was not really the issue) he confided in me that he’d been feeling depressed and just need someone to talk with about some of his frustrations and disappointments in life. He hung up thanking me and apologizing for taking so much of my time.
I’m so glad for second chances and opportunities to shape my character and “professionalism,” no matter how painful they are.
Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker