Few careers rely as heavily on in-person communication as real estate. As a real estate professional, you’ll win or lose business based on the strength of your personality. Whether you’re rubbing elbows with community leaders at a networking function, conversing with colleagues at a seminar, or meeting new clients for the first time, you’ll need solid communication skills to make a good impression.
Communication skills aren’t something that come naturally to everyone, but fortunately, they can be learned. The more you use them, the sharper they’ll become. It’s all about building your emotional intelligence; the ability humans have to recognize emotions in others and use that information to guide their thinking and behavior. Here’s how:
1. Focus on the other person.
Start by paying full attention to the person with whom you are speaking. That means putting away your phone and ignoring any notifications that pop up during your conversation.
Make eye contact and listen to what the other person has to say. This allows you to pick up on important social cues that give insight into what the other person is thinking or feeling. It will also build trust between you.
2. Really listen.
Oftentimes, when someone else is talking, our minds are focused on deciding what we want to say next rather than on hearing and processing what is being said. Break this habit by restating what you just heard or asking for a clarification..
For example, you might say, “So what I’m hearing you say is that you wish the speaker had stuck to the topic. Is that what you meant?” or “I understand what you mean about being overworked, but I didn’t catch what’s causing you to feel that way.”
3. Be aware of your body language.
While listening, smile or frown when appropriate, nod or raise your eyebrows if called for, and maintain comfortable eye contact, which means blinking regularly and briefly looking away from time to time. This shows that you’re not just listening but also mentally processing what’s being said and respecting the speaker’s comfort zone.
Likewise, be careful not to fidget, tap your foot, or bounce your knees. You don’t want to give the impression you’d rather be elsewhere.
4. Ask more than you tell.
The No. 1 way to make someone feel valued and validated is to ask them questions about themselves and their interests. Allow them to do most of the talking. Learn how to ask great questions during a conversation through research and practice.
5. Keep it short and simple.
Everyone has been to a meeting scheduled to end at 2 p.m. that finally rambled to a close around 4:30. When speaking to a client or a group of colleagues, be mindful of their time as well as yours.
6. Mind your manners.
Say “please” and “thank you.” If someone thanks you, don’t say “No problem.” or “It was nothing.” Instead, say “You’re very welcome.” Avoid slang. Resist the urge to make controversial jokes, like those involving religion or politics. Don’t interrupt. If you must talk on the phone while in public, leave the room and find someplace quiet to talk or keep your voice down, so everyone around you doesn’t have to hear your conversation.
In short, treat everyone else the way you want to be treated.
BONUS TIP: Practice! The more you practice good social skills, the more natural they’ll become. You’ll eventually find yourself excelling at in-person communication.