Everybody is Kung Foo Fighting

It’s stressful dealing with ever-more complicated real estate transactions, isn’t it?  Frustrations abound with the processes, the people, and unfortunately we’ve been hearing about it.  We are fielding more and more complaints about a lack of common courtesy, professionalism and really, basic kindness.  For the first time in my history, we are fielding complaints about “screaming agents” and “the most foul language I’ve ever heard” and “nasty messages” and “calling me names” and “rude and hurtful” and “abusive / bullying” and “impossible to work with” and the list goes on.  North, Central, South, everywhere.  These complaints come from other REALTORS (as is typical) but now we’re getting calls from buyers and sellers, lawyers and lenders.  For real.  It feels like our beautiful Berkshire reputation is starting to become known for hair-trigger tempers and unprofessional dealings.  And it’s very concerning.  We know it isn’t you – but when dealing with someone on the other end, these problems can escalate.  So, a few words of advice.

Take 10:  Don’t respond angry, tit-for-tat or emotionally.  Take a break, walk it off, wait for the blood to stop boiling before you respond – professionally and in the best interest of your client.  Remind yourself at every turn, that you are a master negotiator, you can keep this deal moving in a professional manner with some simple conflict resolution skills.  The industry is a mosaic of personalities and experience. It’s helpful to understand the most common triggers and have a plan to deal with them. The most common complaints are not shocking…

  • Lack of response to a message or call —> Which leads to “overstepping”, the other complaint we receive. First, everyone is guilty of miscommunication and lack of communication at times.  An effort to respond quickly with at least an acknowledgement is a awesome goal for all. Remember that everyone is working with tight timelines, emotional clients, inflexible regulations and more – don’t make anyone in business feel invisible during this juggling act.  Acknowledge every call/email as fast as you can. And when you aren’t afforded the same courtesy by a Realtor – follow up with them – and try, try, try NOT to follow up with a frustrated rant.  You must rise above, take a deep breath, and try to negotiate a return call or action. Can you do it, with empathy, a joke, an incentive?  Make yourself accessible via phone, email, text, face-to-face (and acknowledge not everyone works like you… if someone texts you a response but you wanted a call, it’s still a response).  If they still don’t respond then it’s time for broker or board office involvement. No yelling necessary. No overstepping by calling the other person’s client or lawyer or lender. Deal with the issue at hand, and don’t fall victim of lowering your own code of conduct out of frustration.
  • Not knowing the job —> Which leads to complaints of the condescending “Know-it-All”:  Frustrations mount when one side of the transaction has invested time and resources into learning and staying current on business practices and one side hasn’t.  But here’s the thing.  Your reputation is on the line, and there is no formula for what you are paid to do.  If the other agent is hungry for knowledge, take a deep breath and release the tension you felt when you mentally railed at their incompetence or the lack of education by their broker, and instead consider that you can help mentor this agent … (FYI: There really is never a need to call someone an idiot in a professional conversation. What you think, we don’t care about that).  You can help move the transaction forward by biting your tongue, communicating, sharing and working your tail off to help achieve your client’s goals.  When you do that, you raise your reputation among all those in the transaction.  Because ultimately, you can be known as the one who is great to work with and gets the job done…. or you can be known as the one that’s impossible to work with. It’s up to you.  Also if you are extremely knowledgeable about the industry, and you sense someone is frustrated with your “education”, take just a moment to reexamine your process … are you frustrating others with unnecessary “hoops” to jump through? Asking for all of the paperwork to be completed accurately is not a hoop but a business requirement. Asking for hourly updates on the status of a inspection might be over the top.  Once you have viewed both sides, you can use a little tool called communication to explain to the other agent where you’re coming from.
  • Abrasive personalities—-> Which leads others to stress, steam and bark back. People can be jerks for no reason and people can be living through personally trying times. In the old days, when someone was foul mouthed or rude, we would politely say, “Please call back when you can communicate in a respectful manner. Click.” Or, waiting until silence to say “Are you done yet?” Today, many just yell back.  It’s really hard not to take it personally, but it really is THEIR professionalism issue, not yours. Don’t let your emotions drag you down to their level.  Remind yourself that you are a professional, you value your reputation, and fighting is never going to help your client or your business.

Please stop yourself from harmful gossip about professionals in the industry – it always gets back to the source and that bridge is burned for good.  Be honest, always, with your clients when experiencing issues, but try to keep your comments factual and not personal.  “I have made 2 calls, sent 3 emails and now have a call into his/her broker and our association office” makes you appear competent and able to handle all issues that come your way.  Saying, “That agent is a jerk who is impossible to work with” turns the client helpless to the whims of a 3rd party. Be a professional in word and in deed.

And most of all, be nice.  It’s hard enough out there without all this yelling nonsense.  Thank you!