Hearing vs. Listening

Posted: October 31, 2007 in General

2 things you need to know before I get started:

Google Talk1. My wife and I use Google Talk during the day so that I don’t have to talk on the phone during the day. You know, I’m super busy. I hate stopping to answer the phone and talk about miscellaenous things.

Homeschool 2. We homeschool our 12 year old daughter. She has been homeschooled for almost 5 years. It’s amazing! She is smarter at 12 than I am at 35. I’m not sure whether I should have said that or not. Well, anyway.

These 2 things are important to the story that I’m about to tell. I didn’t want to have to explain them right in the middle. It would have been distracting. So, here goes the story…

About 3 years ago I am in the middle of my work day at The Owen Group. I was the Listing Manager there for about 4.5 years. I get an IM (Instant Message) from my wife. This is at about 11:15 am. It says, “Dustin, Brianan —

My Punkin

…says that she has forgotten how to use her pencil, so she cannot finish her school work today.” I stare blankly into the monitor for a few moments thinking that I have misread the IM. After I wipe the slobber from my lip due to psychosomatic shock I begin to type back. I say, “What do you mean she says that she cannot remember how to use her pencil?” Isn’t that a dumb question? Why do we say things like that to people after they have stated something so clearly?

Anyway, she types back, “Well, she was about to do her math and suddenly she tells me that she cannot remember how to use her pencil.” I type back, “That is the dumbest thing that I’ve ever heard. Is she being serious?” You see, my daughter is incredibly intelligent. While I am aware that most parents are under that impression, regardless of whether their child is an Einstein or an Eggbert, our daughter has proven her intelligence level by learning Latin, 1500 years of Bible history, chapters of Scripture memorization, etc. And so when I read this unbelievable thing on my IM I am just in shock.


I type back, “Ok, don’t worry about it. Wait about 10 minutes and I’m going to call.”

Now, something else you need to know about me before I continue. Awwww yeah I am quite the sly fox when it comes to being creative in my discipline. When Brianan was smaller I instilled a reverent fear in her through spanking.

[Caveat – For those of you who disagree with corporal punishment, do not send me nasty e-mails or personal opines unless you are willing to engage in a healthy and committed debate on parental discipline based upon presuppositions that are founded within absolutes vs. relativistic, postmodern mumbo jumbo. 🙂 ]

However, once she got to a certain age I began to become more, um, imaginative in my discipline. For instance, there was a period in her life when she just couldn’t remember to do her chores. I mean, according to her, these things just “slipped her mind” each and everyday. So, I told her that if I came home one more time and these things had just “slipped her mind,” that there would be a steep penalty to pay. Well, she slipped. Thus, the next day she had a list of chores to do that could be likened to the 631 Levitical laws of the Old Testament. She was doing the chores late into the night. Coincidentally enough she no longer has as big an issue with things “slipping her mind.”

Ok, so after about 10 minutes I call the house. Brianan picks up the phone. “Hi Daddy,” she says (we have caller ID). I say, “Hi Punkin. How’s your day going?” She says, “Daddy, it is the weirdest thing – I can’t remember how to use my pencil.” I say, “Wow, really? That is weird indeed. What do you think happened?” She says, “I don’t know. I mean, it’s just so weird. I picked up my pencil to do Math and I just cannot remember how to write with it.” I say, “Yeah, gosh that’s really weird. Well, I hope you can remember by tonight.” She pauses and then asks why. I say, “Well, remember that Noah and Isaiah are coming over tonight with Kerry and Laura.” That’s our pastor and his wife, along with their children. Another pause. She says, “So if I can’t remember by then, then I can’t play with Noah and Isaiah?” I say, “Well of course not. Your school is very important. Honoring the Lord by doing your best is extremely important. So I’m going to be praying and hoping that you can remember how to use your pencil by then. If you can’t then you will be in your room doing your school work until you can remember.” I tell her that I love her and that I will see her after work. I didn’t threaten discipline or anything.

Te he. I couldn’t help but give a devilish laugh when I hung up.

Good times

About 5 minutes later another IM pops up on my screen. It was my wife. Guess what it said! Do you want to guess? I should have a competition to see who could guess what the IM said. No, I think too many people would guess correctly. The IM said, “Dustin, she suddenly remembered how to use her pencil and she’s doing her Math.” Well, praise the Lord. Miracles are real. 😉

Why did I tell this story? How does it parallel with real estate, or anything for that matter? Easy – How many times do you feel this way when you are dealing with clients? I mean, you have gone on a listing presentation, been hired as the agent, sent them more information that is a reiteration of what you said in the listing presentation, had an assistant call and give them the information again, and then you get a call asking the same basic questions that have been answered 7 times by the time the listing agreement is signed?

Or, how many times have you (the assistant) called to get showing feedback for your agent and had to deal with an agent that asks 20 questions about the home? After you’ve answered the “How many bedrooms did it have again?” question for the 6th time, they say, “Hmm, and where is it?” Once you’ve pulled 2 or 3 globs of hair from your head, the agent says, “Ohh, I remember that one. My clients didn’t like the floorplan.” What? The floorplan!!! Ok, how many of us know that this is a pat answer that in real estate terminology means “I don’t remember the house”?


Has any staff member of Keller Williams been approached by an agent directly after a team meeting, and had that agent ask the very question that was the topic of the team meeting. For example, a couple of weeks ago the team meeting was on short sales. Imagine an agent walking up to one of the staff members, Tina or Kim (Perry), directly after the meeting and asking, “Hey, is there any training on short sales anytime soon?”

For the love of all that is holy… Um, you’re kidding right?

The point is that we need to listen. There is a difference between hearing and listening. I hear my wife sometimes. Then when she asks me later if I did this or that, and I say, “Huh?”, then she knows that I heard, but didn’t listen. An agent can hear a client, but not really listen. Then there is a dissatisfied client. People can hear what is being said, but not listen and then be in turmoil because of confusion.

And very much like the behavior of my daughter a few years back with the unforgettable pencil incident, we all can take on that sort of an attitude when things aren’t going our way. It makes for interesting moments, yes? Another thing we can learn from such a realization is that we should have patience and understanding with others around us. It’s not as though we have never been guilty of these things. Well, at least I know that I have.

Have an awesome and safe evening!

Dustin Curlee


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