6 Listening Sins

6 Listening Sins

The 6 Deafly Sins: Are you listening to customers, or sinning?

As a task-oriented person I am often guilty of what is called Pseudo Listening. That’s when you pretend to be listening. Someone will come into my office, and I will
continue typing while the person speaks. I have to catch myself and stop my propensity to multi-task. Sometimes I fail, but my knowledge of this “listening sin” heightens my awareness and sometimes I get it right.  I work at it because I know fundamentally my active or inactive listening communicates something to the person talking.
Listening requires work. It demands polished skills, and its mastery is essential to a meaningful and profitable relationship with your customer.

Your understanding of customer needs, wants and expectations hinges on your ability to listen. Needs, wants and expectations drive tenant renewal for property management and budget allocations for facility management, and therein lies the business connection behind listening.

There are six listening sins that undermine your business results.  Knowing them can boost your “spidey senses” leading to greater awareness, self-correction and eventually complete repentance. Here they are:


Sin #1—Pseudo Listening
: When we pseudo listen, we pretend to be listening.  Unfortunately our eyes and facial expression give away our pretensions.  When Listening Boxyou pseudo listen, you violate a person’s esteem needs because you tell him/her what he/she is saying is not important to you.  Can you see how this can damage customer relations?  When you violate a customer’s needs, you lose that customer.

Sin #2—Selective Listening: When we selective listen, we only hear what we want to. Selective listening causes us to put up barriers and prevents us from really understanding the other person’s point of view.

Sin #3—Insulated Listening: This occurs when we listen only for the worst outcome.

Sin #4—Defensive Listening: This is listening only to find defense in your position.  Defensive listening leads to self-listening (see Sin #6).

Sin #5—Insensitive Listening: This is listening with the attitude of “What you have to say isn’t important to me.” This behavior is a major violation of a person’s Esteem Needs.  It demotivates, creates resentment and even causes anger.

Sin #6—Self-Listening: This occurs when you want the other person to finish so you can talk.  You find yourself cutting a person off before he/she can finish.  This is an easy mistake to make, especially if you are opinionated or like to dominate a discussion.

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Are you listening now?

Facility management and property management in their most rudimentary forms are about managing building occupants’ and building owner experiences with the building. There is certainly no sin in profiting off of a delivered building service or a positive net operating income, but it is a sin not to listen how you can make the experience better for all stakeholders.  Be a saint; purge the six listening sins from your customer service.

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Marc Collings

Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Varsity Facility Services
Marc Collings is Varsity's Vice President of Marketing for Varsity Facility Services. Marc oversees the company's growth, branding, positioning, customer support and analytics. In this role, he has positioned the company as a customer solutions leader for lowering cost and improving quality. He also led the company-wide rebranding and strategically positioned the company as a sustainability leader, serving on a committee for the EPA, obtaining the Ashkin Group award for sustainable leadership, leading Varsity's CIMS Green Building certification with honors, and developing Varsity's S.H.A.P.E. sustainability strategy, which improves service results along five dimensions: Safety, Health, Asset Preservation, Productivity and the Environment.

In 2011, Marc's team won the large company category, "Best in the Industry" marketing materials from the Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI). Marc also directs Varsity's proposal writing, sales process and tools development, marketing campaigns, corporate website SEO performance and customer support center.

Marc has spent his career developing strategic capabilities that enhance value to customers and the company. A Lean Sigma Green belt himself, he developed the company's Lean Sigma offering, providing an innovative solution to customers' need to lower cost while raising quality. He led the development of JanOPS, an industry-leading janitorial operating system, which brings standardization and service consistency to large campus and geographically disperse national accounts.

Prior to this position, Marc was responsible for strategic management at Varsity. He has initiated or directed multiple strategic technology initiatives, ranging from a corporate website, a corporate intranet, a web/smartphone based quality control system, a learning management system, a corporate content manager and knowledge wiki, salesforce.com deployment and customization, and an Android app which facilitates the GROW sales process he has developed.

Marc is the author of several leadership and management training manuals, field guides, marketing collateral and case studies. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and holds a bachelor degree in English/Technical Writing and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Idaho State University. Marc enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and golf. He is happily married, and he and his wife Victoria enjoy raising and spending time with their four children.

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