Address                                      July 2018

I went on a listing appointment one time and had three little sad-faced girls sitting across from me while I talked to their parents about selling the house. The girls started crying simultaneously. Never having had this happen to me before, it was quite nerve racking. Because I had lived in ten homes by the time I was ten years old, I could totally understand what they were feeling. On a lark I asked them to show me the home. In the backyard there was a delightful playhouse which was their prized possession. The white and pink doll mansion would be sorely missed by all three of them. I said, “Well, you know that we will have to sell the playhouse, too. How much do you want for it?” The youngest said with glee, “one HUNDRED DOLLARS!” The eight year old said, “NO, two hundred.” And the eleven year old bid, “ONE THOUSAND!” So we went back in the house and wrote a separate listing agreement for the playhouse. I gave them each a copy.  Now, they were on board.

One of the biggest challenges in life remains as it always has been – how do I communicate with this person standing right in front of me? We all think that we have incredible speaking ability. This is based on our great vocabulary, wonderful educations, and past successes. Each time we speak with individuals we must consider carefully who they are and how they are likely to feel about the subject at hand. We also need to understand their body language.

Some time ago, I was sitting in the car on the driver’s side. My wife was sitting on the passenger side.   The radio was not on, and there wasn’t a CD in the player. My wife was talking to me, and I was   driving 65 miles per hour.   Our shoulders were about nine inches apart, and her mouth was 14 inches from my ear. Then she said, “Are you listening to me?”   Now I was confused.   How could I not be listening to her? What she meant was, “Please look at me when I’m talking to you.”

When we men think back to times with our friends in the fourth or fifth grade, we see this kind of picture.   Sitting on the porch steps, we are shoulder to shoulder talking about stuff. We constantly scan for activity in the yard or on the street. Later we are in our fort, shoulder to shoulder, shooting at the bad guys. Taken to the max we might end up shoulder to shoulder in a real firefight with an actual enemy.

On the other hand, my ten-year-old sister would be inside the house with her friend. If I were dumb enough to walk into her room unannounced, I would usually find them sitting on her bed facing each other while talking. That of course would be followed by, “get out of my room!” Other times they would be on the floor facing each other over some object of discussion. If I caught them at the kitchen table with food they would again be facing each other.

Women tend to talk looking directly at each other. Men prefer not to be facing each other. In fact, if you get into a fight with a guy, you will often call it “getting in his face.”   So, if you want to make points, look at the lady when you are talking to her.   If possible, reposition yourself so that you are directly facing each other. When talking to a guy turn a little to the side or just sit on the porch looking out across the landscape. Know your audience and you will communicate even better than you thought you might.

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