Thursday, March 10, 2016

"What's That You Say? March Is International Listening Month"

There are days, weeks, months, and even years devoted to commemorating various events and causes. It helps us celebrate or observe dates in history, important historical figures, and even some of the more lighthearted observances such as national popcorn or donut day.

The month of March has been designated as "International Listening Month." It is great to have such an emphasis for two very important reason that affect the way we offer and deliver aging-in-place services and solutions.

First, listening is important because it is central to effective communication. If we just talked and never listened, we would have no idea how to meet the needs of our customers and clients except for recommending what seemed right to us - without verifying what was needed. Also, we would have no concept of the scope or budget desired - or funding sources and decision makers.

We really can't sell our services or offer effective solutions unless we listen to our customers and clients. That's what the discovery part of the sales process is all about. We ask question to learn what is desired and needed, what isn't working so well right now, what amount of money has been allocated for the improvements, who else has been considered or consulted, have other types of designs been reviewed, what outcome they are trying to achieve, who it is being designed to help, how long the solution is needed, what types of appliances or fixtures need to be included, and so many other aspects of generating a proposal to move forward.

Meaningful conversation occurs when each party - for instance, us and out customers - has a chance to provide their opinion and express their needs and gets to actually hear what the other is saying.

The second aspect of having a month devoted to listening is that seniors tend to loose the ability to hear as they age. In the United States, there there generally is about ten percent (one-in-ten) of the population that has some amount of hearing loss. By age 65, this number has grown to one-third (one-out-of-three).

As we design for other physical needs and limitations, taking in account various sensory needs, such as a general loss of hearing, is a important aspect of creating aging-in-place solutions. This is true even when there is no apparent need or weakness now - but understanding that it could be present in the future.

It's appropriate that we have a month devoted to such a vital part of our lives as hearing - and listening, which is actively hearing and using what is said.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.