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.

SHOW Them You Mean Business!

Sales can be a fickle thing. Fickle because professional salesperson has to deal with other human beings. With that, comes all the thoughts, feelings, miscommunication and paranoia of those prospective clients. Throw a new home in the mix and you have a recipe for disaster!

In any industry, the onus to explain the process of how a customer can take advantage of a product or service falls to the sales professional. Ethically, this should include all the caveats of finalizing the agreement and disclosures any unforeseen liabilities. In real estate, this is a part of an agent’s fiduciary (financial) responsibility. A Realtor may market well and give sound advice when an offer comes in, but what about the period in between?

This is the time where clients, especially sellers, have the most anxiety and need a little bit of hand-holding. Yes, dealing with someone else’s emotions and frustrations is part of the job.  If one becomes a real estate agent because he loves beautiful homes, but dislikes dealing with people and their problems, then he is in exactly the WRONG industry. At the risk of sounding cliche, it really IS a people business. The best way take the temperature of your client and avoid a potential melt down is with good communication. That means preparing them from the very beginning.

People want to be led through the real estate process. They want to know what to expect. There are hundreds of things that may go wrong, and many of them are out of the Realtor’s control. What is in the control of the pro is how hard he or she will work on behalf of their clients. Over a decade ago, I developed a marketing plan detailing what I will do in the first 30 days I have a home listed. It was a way of actually showing what I would do. This is a small part of what I share in my Improved Communications for Real Estate Professionals” seminars. However, it is an important one. If I am going head-to-head against another professional for a client’s business yet they do not have a marketing plan, who do you think the prospect will choose?

Marketing Plan

Note, this 30 Day New Listing Marketing Plan does NOT guarantee I will SELL their home in 30 days. It simply reiterates what I am doing to get the home sold while I have it listed. Part of which, is good communication.  Having a frank conversation about what you will… or will not do to represent the client is not only sound business, but it will prevent miscommunication down the road. There is nothing new here. In truth, this is a culmination of several ideas I gathered along the way. A Realtor… or any other industry professional should have an explanation of serviced they can readily share with their prospects.

Keep watching for my latest “Improved Communications for Sales” workshop.

http://MomentumSeminars.com

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

The 8 Most Common Mistakes of New Managers

Recently, I was speaking to a group of business owners. It was a luncheon, and I was brought in as the guest speaker. The topic that day was on turning new managers into effective ones. It was a portion of my one day management seminar I conducted the month before. Entrepreneurs want to know how to get their management team up and running as quick as possible.

Almost as important as what to do, it to know what NOT to do. With so many people, procedures and other considerations in any organization, mistakes are sometimes made.  It is not enough for a leader to continue to develop his or her skills. The boss must also be mindful to avoid potential obstacles that could derail an otherwise positive environment.

1) Leading all members of a team in the same manner.

One size does not fit all when it comes to dealing with human beings. And if you’re in management, THAT is the job; dealing with human beings. Everyone responds different to the chief motivators of pain or pleasure. To uncover what motivates a person, a manager must first have an individual relationship with all members of the team.

2) Offensive, obnoxious, rude or abusive behavior.

Being offensive simply isn’t acceptable in the 21st century workplace. Truth is, it wasn’t acceptable in the 20th century or any other. Being loud or issuing threats will simply repel good employees. For those who are motivated by achieving pleasure and reward, this tactic provides neither.

3) Failing to show appreciation when it is deserved.

One thing that keeps good employees in place for years when perhaps the title wasn’t as glamorous or money wasn’t as good compared to somewhere else, is a sense of satisfaction. Simply Receiving a paycheck isn’t enough for someone to take pride in their work. Employees need validation from the boss.

4) An inability to gather or give information due to poor communication  skills.

If you don’t have a TEAM, you are not really a manager. You are a specialist. A siloed technician can get away with not speaking much or constructing emails in bullet points devoid of adjectives, a manger cannot. Issuing edicts like a monarch doesn’t work in the American culture. People need to know what, how and even why.

5) Not being a role model or leading by example.

It is not necessary for managers to DO everything alongside the rest of the team every day. However, it is necessary illustrate that the manager CAN. This is not only good for esprit de corps but it also allows the boss an opportunity to exhibit what the standard of work is to be.

6) Blurring the lines of management and being too friendly.

Managing friends and former co-workers is always tough. But if the position has shifted, so should the relationship. Notice, I did not say there is no relationship, it has simply transformed. Those who will call on the loyalties of “friends” in their new corporate rung will always fail. It better to establish what the new relationship is on the front end.

7) Being absent or otherwise detached from the organization.

A good boss has to be present in mind and body. Yes the mice will play, so it is imperative they physically see a manager. Though it is not just a matter of work ethic, but teams need to know they have the support of management. Support given from a distance may not be perceived as support at all. Morale, whether good or bad, stems from leadership.

8) Micro-managing; not delegating responsibilities or trusting the team.

I could go deep here, but the bottom line is: nobody likes a control freak! If the boss is hovering over the collective shoulder of the team, the team will essentially give up. Why should they try so hard if everything is to be critiqued and modified later? It also teaches employees to not engage their own ingenuity.

The relationship between employer and employee is just that, a relationship. As such, it must be cultivated by both parties. Proper interaction is a must to achieving organizational goals.

 

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