Time For Action: Listen and Learn

November 2, 2013 in Apartment Leasing Ideas, Apartment Management Ideas, Apartment Marketing Ideas


Time Multifamilypro's Brainstorming SessionsBy Tami Siewruk

When a New Year rolls around, it generally brings with it an amazing seasonal opportunity to nose around in other people’s business.  We go around asking each other what our resolutions are, like it’s a simple question that anyone should be able to answer freely at the drop of a hat.  Think about it — what you’re really asking is “In what areas do you find yourself to be so horribly deficient that you’ll need to place special emphasis on them for an entire year in order to bring them up to par?”  Talk about a personal question!!!  Okay… so maybe that’s a bit rough.  Sharing resolutions really is a good thing — it’s a little humbling, and reminds us that we have room to grow and evolve, and voicing our goals gives us a chance to strengthen our resolve.  Face it — once you’ve said it out loud, you might as well commit to following through, because you won’t even be able to count the number of times you’ll be asked personal stuff like “how many inches have you lost on your thighs so far?” or “aren’t you pregnant yet?.

Before I’m even asked, I’ve decided to share my biggest resolution for 2014 with all of you — all several thousand of my readers.  How’s that for commitment?

This is my problem:  I am stupid (and I do mean stupid).  I listen attentively to what other people have to say to me because information is power, and the more information I receive, the more empowered I am to be the best person I can be.  This is the line of b%#!s*%+ that I was more than happy to believe about myself for pretty much all of 2013. I am stupid because I do listen — at least for the few seconds that it takes me to decide whether I agree or disagree, or whether or not the information is useful to me.  If I agree or if the info means something to me, I listen some more.  If I don’t agree or don’t care, I don’t listen.  It’s that simple.  It only gets complicated when I realize — usually way later — that I should have listened a little further before I shut my ears off, because that bit of information really was important to me, whether I agreed with it or not.  Lots of times, I probably don’t ever realize that I missed out on some pretty good stuff — and ignorance may be bliss, but I can promise you that it certainly isn’t profitable.

Here’s a fine example of my stupidity in action in 2013, and the driving force behind my 2014 resolution to focus on what others are trying to teach me (and hopefully, become less stupid in the process).  My friend, is the Executive Vice President of a major Property Management Company, and he has a real talent for marketing.  This should have been reason enough for me to listen, but it’s no secret that I know everything already. Now, even if I’m not really listening, I’m rarely rude about it — I said “Yeah!  That’s a great idea!” and then apparently quit listening, because as great a suggestion as this was, I didn’t do a thing about it.

The fact is, I had no idea what a great suggestion it really was until four months later when I bothered to check it out even further. The bottom line is that I, finally listened, and it immediately clicked that if I’d taken his advice in the first place, I could have saved myself and my community staff loads of time and effort.  If I’d listened, learned, and taken his advice, this valuable tool could have delivered instant information about our community to anyone who wanted it.  There are at least a million ways I could have used this to benefit my community, but I wasn’t listening or keeping an open mind.

I know I’m certainly not the only one who has this problem to overcome.  We’ve all experienced the frustration of saying something important to someone whom we know isn’t taking it as seriously as we wish they would.  We’ve all experienced the frustration with ourselves that comes with realizing much later that we should have been paying closer attention to something that was told or shown to us in the past.  The indisputable fact is that we all have something to learn from each other, but we can’t learn unless we allow ourselves to.  It’s up to us to listen attentively and keep our minds open.  That’s exactly what I resolve to do in 2014 — to listen carefully and keep an open mind — to continue listening even when I’m not immediately certain that the information is of value to me.  Why is this important to me both personally and professionally — and why is absorbing new information important to us all?

Because as we enter a new year, knowledge and information is an increasingly powerful commodity.  The more you know, the more valuable you are to others, and the more valuable you are to yourself in your ability to become a better, more effective, more skillful, and more “positively charged” person!

Because knowledge has a strong positive inertia.  The more we know, the more we understand.  The more we understand, the more we can do.  The more we can do, the more effective we become.  The more effective we become, the more successful we become.

Because sometimes what you learn determines what else you can learn!  Someone once explained it to me this way:  certain kinds of knowledge — especially the increasingly technical information that’s just plain part of our lives today — requires a sort of foundation upon which to sit… a “frame of reference” within our heads.  You would never have been able to learn to read without first learning the alphabet, right?  Keep listening, because you never know what key bit of information you’ll need in order for a future revelation to fall into place for you!

Because, “Ideas are portable.”  They are your ultimate resource.  They go everywhere that we go — and the more of them we have at our disposal, the better equipped we are to face what life has in store for us.

Because a closed mind is a limited one.  There are only so many solutions that we can come up with on your own, but when we let someone else’s ideas or suggestions in — whoa!  One of someone else’s ideas added to one of your own is usually all it takes to start a chain reaction.  Let in a couple of others, and you’ve got a full-blown solution riot on your hands!  I’ve seen shared ideas practically take on lives of their own, multiplying all over the place. If you want to see it for yourself, join us at the Annual Multifamily Brainstorming Sessions!

That’s all a bit on the philosophical side, but it’s tough to discuss keeping an open mind without getting philosophical about it.  If you want the very best, plain-old-common-sense reason to listen to what other people have to say to you, it’s this:  we all have a great deal to learn from each other.  It’s a lesson that took me a long time to learn, and I hope that I can make it take root in my life this year.  If we cross paths this year, and you have something important to say to me, I’ll be listening!

 Tips For More Effective Listening & Learning


Remove distractions, or remove yourself from them.  It’s difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying to you if you’re occupied with something else, or in a crowded, noisy room.  If you’re occupied, either finish what you’re doing, or put it aside for later.  If there’s too much going on around you to pay attention to what’s being said, ask the person if they’ll follow you to a more quiet place so that you can continue your conversation.

Ask questions.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions when the information isn’t completely clear to you.  The only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.

Take mental notes.  It might seem silly, but when someone tells you something important, make a mental note of it.  This can be as simple as stopping when the conversation is over to repeat in your head the important points of the conversation.  You’ll be surprised what your brain is capable of retaining when you make just a little extra effort.

Finally — network, network, network!  The stronger your personal network is, the more other brains you have to rely on when you need a little help or more information.  You may not remember that important thing that someone told you a few days ago at the critical moment that you need it; but if you remember who told it to you, and you can call that person up and ask them for more information, you’re off to a great start!

Well, now you know at least one of the important things that I’ll be concentrating on in 2014.  I wish you the very best of success (and successful listening!) for the New Year!