Saturday, February 11, 2017

"Listening To Both What Is And Is Not Being Said Is Quite Important"

Listening is a vital part of communication. I think we would all agree on that. While we like to talk about what we feel is important, we need to hear from the people we are engaging and let them express themselves.

In working with our aging in place clients, listening places a huge role. Often they have selected us to speak with them and counsel them about their concerns and issues. Therefore, we have to listen intently - not just to hear what they are saying but to understand it at  a fundamental level.

When we initially engage someone or their appointed representative to begin hearing about their concerns or have them share with us what is on their mind, we have just moments to help them get comfortable with us about our ability to really understand their needs and provide a viable solution for them. There are many contractors that can deliver various solutions that may address their surface needs, but we have to look deeper and attempt to really understand why they are contemplating a change to their living environment, why it will help them be more comfortable in their home, and what their concerns are about moving forward with a project - even if the have the funds to proceed.

While most people will have done some type of remodeling over the years - paint, new carpeting, a minor kitchen remodel, new roof, and the like - a remodel that will reconfigure their home to provide a safe and comfortable living space for them over the next several years and enable this to be the home that they can remain in becomes a more serious and important decision than just choosing a paint or wallpaper color. There is real emotion attached to this, and we need to be able to discern this through what they are telling us.

They are sizing us up and evaluating how well they think we understand them, how they believe we can meet their needs, their trust and confidence level with us, the general quality of us to address their concerns, and whether they want to pursue working with us.

They are listening to us talk and evaluating us as individuals (our attitude, manners, knowledge, experience, and believability), our potential solutions for their expressed or perceived needs, and our company (even if we are the company). At the same time, we are trying to determine if they are serious candidates for allowing us to work with them as we ask them questions, interpret their responses, and observe their body language and tone of voice.

We have to listen between the lines – to discern what is meant or what is being said even though it is not expressly verbalized. The provider who learns to do this well will have a definite competitive advantage over those who just show and tell people what they can do and occasionally ask a question.

Asking questions just because we think it is polite to do so, the script calls for it, or as a way trying to get the customers involved – but not really wanting to hear what they have to say is not going to help. Unless we are ready to apply this information that we are told (including what is said between the lines) to our sales presentation and tailor it specifically to what the client or customer wants and needs to hear to make a decision, we are not going to be viewed very highly by them - or be successful at helping them.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, 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.