May I Offer a Little Friendly Advice?

There is an old saying: “Free advice is only worth what you paid for it”. Well, hold on! Not everything that is free is completely worthless. Consider the air we breathe. Yes, there are times when advice can be good and beneficial to its receiver. There is another adage: “The best things in life are… FREE”. Perhaps more than the actual advice, we should better scrutinize the source. WHO is the one imparting the sage wisdom? Are they actually a sage? In other words, is it someone who actually has experience in that field?

When I was in business school, we had the occasional adjunct professor teach some of the upper class courses. An “adjunct” was someone who was not on regular staff, but still worked in the industry of which they were teaching. That being the case, they were usually night classes. I always had this feeling that the regular faculty didn’t like adjuncts. Nonetheless, THEY are the ones from whom I learned the most. If I saw an instructors name in the course catalog I didn’t recognize, I knew it was probably a business owner or CEO. It would be someone I could ask real-world questions and get a straight answer. An answer based on experience and not what was already written in the textbook. In other words, I valued their advice.

In real estate, it is estimated over half of all agents nationally quit after the first year in the industry.   One major reason for the high turnover is rookies feel they are not adequately trained in the BUSINESS of real estate. Over a decade ago, I was a real estate trainer for one of the largest RE/Max franchises in the country. It was a job I enjoyed and held that position for about five years. The program I put in place for new agents was hugely successful as evidenced by the stint of their careers. The training was said to be so good that veteran agents of other companies would recommend their friends who wanted to get into real estate to come see me! The managing broker loved me.

Given the acclaim from within as well as externally, you would think all the newbies would always hang on to every word I said in our training meetings, right? Nope! A new agent would knock on my office door and ask “Do you have a minute”? I always made the time. Once they asked a question or told me of a challenge they were having, I would tell them the best course of action or even offer a couple of suggestions. USUALLY, it was based on an experience I actually had throughout the course of my own career. I was puzzled the times they would not heed my words and go it their own way, sometimes re-inventing the wheel.

On one particular incident, one of my agents asked if she could simply use the old house photos from an online listing that had expired with another company. Though I had never heard of such, I told her it was best she take her own listing photos and “start fresh”. Simple enough, right? It may have been laziness on her part, but it certainly was not by accident she posted the old agents pictures online. Three days later the broker of the expired listing’s company called my broker and words were exchanged. I believe the topic was intellectual property rights. Once my young agent caught wind of the conversation, she called the old agent and further exacerbated the situation. Feelings were hurt and there was now bad blood between the two firms, which in real estate is NOT good. Not good at all. All she had to do was take my advice… and her own damned photos.

What I realized was there are people who seek validation rather than unbiased advice. They have an idea and go to the expert. IF the expert agrees… YAY! But if the veteran dissents, they simply do what it is they really wanted to do all along. I use to be extremely annoyed by this, as I considered my time was wasted. Now I see it is part of being human. To varying degrees we all do this. We get it in our head what we want to do, but ask opinions of others to cover ourselves. This is why it is vitally important to suspend making final decisions on important issues until enough workable information is in. Granted, it’s hard to separate our emotions from a logical decision. That’s the human part I was talking about. Consider all the down on their luck gamblers in Las Vegas; a prime example of not separating ideas from emotion.

Real estate is a tough career, but so is public speaking. I’m not even talking about being on stage. That is only 10% of it, the tip of the iceberg. As a public speaker and corporate trainer, I have about ten people a year ask me how to get started as a motivational speaker. I always stop what I am doing and take time to talk to them and answer any question they have. Why? Because a lot of successful speakers along the way stopped to talk to ME. They gave me advice and I took it. I always let novice speakers know the one most IMPORTANT bit of advice I can spare for someone just getting in the business; join Toastmasters International. Toastmasters is a public speaking club where one can learn the skills. The cost is only about $100 annually and generally, members are warm and welcoming. So, how many would-be Tony Robbins took me up on my advice? None! Not a single person I ran into again or called a month later actually joined Toastmasters. My guess is their dream is more attractive than the actual work of bringing it into reality.

My advice to you: the next time you seek someone’s opinion and their idea is contrary to what you initially thought, do further fact finding. However, they may be able to spare you some heartaches and stress. Has this person actually done what it is you want to do? If not, then WHY are you asking them?  Find someone qualified with real-world experience. If something isn’t as easy as you originally thought it was, you’re probably on the right track.

http://MomentumSeminars.com

MomentumSemianrs@gmail.com

Silence is Golden

The Holidays are here, and some of us will spend more time with our extended families than we spent in the first eleven months. Hey, it’s family, what could go wrong, right? Well, you all know the answer to that! Nonetheless, this is the time of glad tidings, and good cheer. So, why not give them the gift that may ultimately reward us in the long run; silence.

If you are in management, education, or sales, you are taught to talk, and talk a lot. Talk every chance you get. We talk to establish who we are, what we do and hopefully build a relationship. But, when grandpa starts describing his latest stomach ailment in graphic detail, or when little sis goes on nonstop about her fifth boyfriend this year, it may be time to pause, and spend some time on the OTHER half of communication; listening. You don’t have to have a degree in psychology to know there may be a greater reason for our loved ones to “dump” all their problems on us.

Perhaps they think WE are the only ones who will actually listen to them. Think about that, just remaining quiet could be very important to those we care about. This is not to say the project should be attempted without a good stiff eggnog, but it is an exercise in your own level of compassion. By remaining quiet, and hearing them out, we remove ourselves as active participants in their latest challenge, dilemma, or scheme. When we are just with them in a nonjudgmental way, we allow them to vent, and remove what they have been carrying around with them all year long. Don’t attack them, defend them, or try to “fix” the problem. Instead, just hold your tongue. They may finally move off the point of their own issues, and ask about you! Nonetheless, they will be convinced, it was one of the best “conversations” they ever had with you. So this year, give the gift that is worth its weight in gold, just be quiet, and LISTEN.

Four Conflict Styles of Communication

Most people hate conflict and will do what they can to avoid it. However, when we interact with others, there will be disagreements from time to time. Our words are our weapons of choice. Use them sparingly and we may be taken advantage by other coworkers. Use them too quick or often and we run the chance of being viewed as a workplace bully. We have the right to defend ourselves but it’s a delicate balance between ignoring a rude remark and speaking up.

Assertive Communication

Assertive communicators think win-win. They will pursue what is due them but not at the exclusion of anyone else. The assertive individual understands all co-workers have rights and are to be treated with respect. They are generally easy to get along with, yet will maintain organizational policies and standards. This type of positive communication style is good for the overall morale of the group and is generally expected of those in leadership positions.

Aggressive Communication

In short, an aggressive communicator is a bully. They consider their wants above the needs of others and look for those to exploit. However, their tactics may not be overt and more manipulative in nature. They are fine to take advantage of others if it will make their own jobs easier.

A bully only respects one thing: strength. If you are correct and have a right to something, be willing to confront them. Address their behavior as unacceptable. This

Angry Woman Bezel Case Office Secretariat

may seem obvious but on a deeper level it is a show of strength. Of course, it is always necessary to assess the total damage of kicking over the euphemistic beehive in the workplace. What will be the repercussions of standing up to an aggressive communicator if that person is your boss? Once they know you will stand up to them, bullies will generally leave you for other prey elsewhere.

Passive Communication

The passive communicator is a perpetual people-pleaser. They get along by going along, never wanting to upset the apple cart. Though they view themselves as the salt of the earth, others will see them as weak and mark them for exploitation. They are often made a victim because they will not voice their opinions stand up for themselves.

Passives generally have issues with setting priorities. They are often busy putting out other people’s fires because they can never say “no”. They need encouragement. The positive words you give them may be the only confidence builders in their lives. Ask them for opinions and solutions on team matters. However, it is important to ensure they understand job requirements and how their part affects the team. If in management, set the priorities for them.

Passive-Aggressive Communication

business_man_beautiful_man_business_business_men_man_young_male_businessman-625568.jpg!dYes, there are those who manage to be both passive AND aggressive at the same time. They will stand up to others… but behind their backs. They have an “I’ll show you” mentality and will carry a grudge. They love to play the victim, yelling one minute and then crying the next if yelling doesn’t work.

Understand the game the passive-aggressive plays but do not play it yourself. To do so would only enable them. Stay focused on what is fact and relevant. Once they realize emotional outbursts do not work, they might come to their senses. When dealing with this personality, ensure everyone is in agreement and there won’t be any “misunderstandings” later. It may be prudent to write a summary in and email to them after a conversation.

In one of my workshops, we go deep into what makes a person behave in such ways. Find out more at: http://MomentumSeminars.com

Professionalism Begins Online

We have all had bad days, but is that a license to blab to the world about how much you hate your job because we’re just not “feeling it” that day? SPOILER ALERT; the crux of this article is that no one cares! Nonetheless, there will be teachers, CPAs, Realtors and even doctors who will spill their guts on the internet through social media. The individual may feel a little better after a purge, but his or her audience is aghast.

A couple of weeks ago, I was with about a dozen veteran real estate agents who were mortified by some of the recent posts of fellow Realtors. Things that apart from just being in bad taste, could actually get the licensee in a lot of hot water. Of course, I immediately pulled out my smartphone to see who was doing what. Oh yes, you will get reactions, but will you get business? I will confess just when I think no one is reading my feed, I may drop a quick comment about an elected official or some new government policy and inadvertently start a firestorm controversy. Right there on MY page… YIKES! Well, if you are alright with that, than that’s your business decision to make.

It really is a business decision. Most people with a professional license are independent contractors. That being said, they are small business owners. To which they are THEIR OWN boss and responsible for taking measures to avoid liability. If one agent tweets out their own resentment toward a fellow Realtor, the overall process or heaven forbid, their own client, repercussions are soon to follow because literally everyone on the planet can read it. As in the case of Realtors, the NAR Code of Ethics, Article 15 reads…

“REALTORS® shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices.” 

The supporting standards go on to state the professional could be made to remove the post and, essentially, apologize. In the case of clients, they could sue over a careless post as it is a breach of agency. So why would someone want to air their dirty laundry online in the first place?

Rachel Albertson, with InfoRule Social Media, a Murfreesboro based marketing firm states; “You do not have to be friends with clients on social media. In fact, I do not recommend it.”  Apparently, Disney thinks that’s a good idea as well. Their employees are NOT permitted to mention they work for Disney. To violate this policy could be grounds for termination. So, be mindful of how you intermingle your private life with business.

Legal issues aside, remember what your mom told you about “conversation in mixed or polite company”? Do not discuss sex, politics or religion. Mom was right! Yet, here is where a lot of people miss it. To spare you the details here, MASHABLE has compiled a list of people who were let go over social media posts. I am not suggesting we have no opinions or never share our ideas, that’s not my place. Though I will offer a friendly reminder if you post something political, you stand the chance of alienating half of your audience.

Professionalism begins online. In the 21st century, the majority of consumers start looking for an insurance agent, mortgage broker, Realtor or dentist through the internet. The search is actually a funnel. The buyer asks a question of a search engine, follows the answer to an industry publication, then a geographic company and then YOU! They already have a vague idea of what a professional is suppose to be before they ever click your name. When they ask a serious question, they anticipate a serious, coherent answer. If what they find instead is an agent posing with a sock monkey, they may not take that professional as one who is serious or would be responsible with their money. In short, the agent appears UNprofessional. Don’t get me wrong, I love sock monkeys as much as the next guy, but if there is no marketing tie-in or a picture of a give away at a children’s hospital, no one would take me serious. They certainly would not trust me with their biggest financial investment. Time to take down the cutesy avatar.

Blaine@realtracs.com

 

Can We Talk?

I have long said “Real estate is a people business”. Yes, I know it sounds cliché, and I guess it is, but don’t let that deter you from the truth, and simplicity of the statement. I personally have nothing to sell you other than myself and the services I provide. When it comes to selling, a “widget” is something much easier to retail than is the concept of home. The buyer wants to have the pride and security of owning a three-, or four-bedroom house. Convincing them that we have the knowledge, and years (or months) of experience to make their dreams come true, is a much more delicate sales pitch.

So with that in mind, why would we not grasp the importance of good communication with our clients throughout the entire process? Whether they are buyers or sellers, they need the reassurances we give them. Reassurances that technology in and of itself simply does not provide. As an instructor, I teach a two-hour continuing education class entitled Professional Courtesy; Etiquette and Consideration in the Real Estate Industry. In it, one of the concepts I briefly convey the importance of remaining “high touch” in a high-tech world. Today, we have so many modes of communication at our disposal, but is it one size fits all?  Be it good news, or bad, from time to time (and many times), we simply have to look our clients in the eye and give a status report. But how is it best done to convey a message or update in a way that is still personable?

My personal preference is; in person. Though the restrictions of time and distance dictate many of these occasions are over the phone. As of yet, I have never taken on a client without first meeting them, or having an in-depth dialogue, so I just assume they expect a certain amount of face, or talk time throughout the entire experience. For the first home buyer or seller, real estate can be pretty intimidating. Yes, even in the 21st century, a certain amount of “hand-holding” still has to take place. As Realtors, perhaps that’s our most important skill; assuring people we didn’t forget about them, and that everything is going to be O.K.

Much communication in the past few years, whether business or personal, has taken place through short message service (SMS) or “text messages”.  These are short, one-way electronic notes. We have seen instances where teens, college students, and many of us may send texts back and forth a dozen times or more. So, the question begs to be asked; why not just make a phone call?

Texting has two distinct advantages by its very nature. A text is fast and convenient. But does every communiqué have to be fast and convenient? Should it be? Some of its downfalls are that it does not provide the details of an email, nor is it a true conversation. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to SMS is you cannot see the face of the person reading your words.

I have often been overheard stating that “texts are of the devil”, but I’m not going to say that here. You can’t see it right now, but I promise you I’m giving the “winky face”.  So, when to text, and when not to text? Consider your expected outcome of the communication. Is it to update a minor point, or to impart important details for your customer or client which with to make a decision?

There is a place, time and subject matter for everything and that includes texting. Some acceptable texts, provided you are not driving, mountain climbing or delivering a baby, could include…

“I’m running a few minutes behind”

“I had your flyers made, and will place them in the box this afternoon.”

“I updated your online photos” 

These messages are routine, almost mundane in nature. At no point does it require the client to make a decision or otherwise stop what they are doing. However, on the other hand…

“Your loan was denied”

 “The house has termites”

“The contract fell through,… I’ll call you Monday afternoon”

…should probably never be texted. And no, a smiley face does NOT make your clients feel better

after any of these quips.

After all how would you feel to realize your dreams were potentially shattered in a note that was limited to fewer than 150 characters? We’ve all heard of the boy who breaks up with his girlfriend through a text message. It’s just considered… well, inconsiderate. So many times, we truly don’t know what our clients think or feel. Though we can get a sense if we see how they react or at least hear the inflections in their voice.

So, before you fire off that short electronic note or private message someone through a social media site, consider the receiving side might not read it exactly as you thought you wrote it.  At least with an email, you have the length to better clarify your message.

BlaineSpeaks@gmail.com