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"Can You Hear Me?" by Mary P. Williams

“Can You Hear Me?” by Mary P. Williams

How did this reversal happen?

Ten short years ago people came to my office and listened carefully as I explained the intricacies of “the real estate deal”. There was pleasure in the interaction and conversation about this subject and many others.  The most interesting thing about my job as a Real Estate Broker was listening to the clients describe their own jobs and their lives. Fascinating explanations from intelligent, innovative people who loved telling me about their visions of the future.

Sandwiched between viewing one house and another house they told me how the Internet would eliminate the use of paper. How business would be done without a face-to-face meeting of broker and client. Neither of these propositions happened. The  joy with which they described the speed with which a person could buy the home they would live in and the elimination of useless “personality” in the transaction amazed me. Was it possible that the prospective buyer could simply look at staged photos of a house and buy it from thousands of miles away? What about the intangibles of weather, neighborhood, and those stately trees which add so much to the quality of life?

As they described this future world they ambled thru a house and commented on the lack, or abundance, of light and “how the moon would look seen thru this window.” The rose garden on this property and the raked zen paths on that property were compared and aesthetic decisions were arrived at. None of this could be done at a distance.

The key ingredient in the selection of the “perfect” house for the individual was the presence of a person to listen as the client talked about their desire for this or that ambiance. That was the function of the Broker … to listen and reflect back to the person a list of “needs” and “wants”. Two very different values.  I only “need” two bedrooms/one bath but I “want” four bedrooms/two baths. Listen, listen, listen.

Then came the longed for and dreaded RETIREMENT.  My young, active, movers-and-shakers were replaced by older, settled people in communities for ‘Over 55 Adults’. People who were uninterested in current affairs, politics, and who the latest artist/writer/filmmaker was and which newly opened restaurant had divine food combinations/far-out interior design. Yikes!

Who am I to talk to and listen to now ? My preference is to have face-to-face contact which provides subtle clues … body language, intonation, and facial expression meld together to give a whole sensory experience which cannot be achieved by texting a person. Yikes indeed!!

Oh, for the chance to listen to a brilliant person scintillate in front of me. “ Spouting off” is what I believe some folks would call it … I call it “creative thinking out loud” and it was the thing which characterized San Francisco in the 1980’s, 1990’s and the early years of the 21st century. I miss the enthusiasm with which they talked, debated, visualized, shouted, muttered, sang and otherwise expressed the joy of conversation.

Can you hear Me ?

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