Who makes you see red?
Most of us can think of at least one person who, just by the mention of their name, can make our fists clench. But what happens when that person is someone in your business? A peer, a competitor, a client, an employee – what if they’re the one who drives you crazy?
Maybe it’s a shady competitor or a peer who takes advantage of clients. Maybe it’s a client who takes advantage of an agent, or someone cooking up rumors in a back office somewhere to gain an industry edge. In the service industry that is Real Estate, there is ample opportunity for people to hurt people. We need to figure out how to work with people who drive us crazy.
How can we keep working with those who hurt us?
First, we need to admit we are hurt. We are allowed to have emotions. We are human, and do not need to ‘toughen up’ or ‘hold it together’. Pain is a legitimate feeling (even in North America). We need to give ourselves permission to feel. Then, and only then, can we actually address those emotions.
Then starts a difficult process of breaking free. Before the hurt turns toxic and becomes bitterness, we need to run. Flee even, quickly before bitterness takes hold! To escape though, we must drop the heavy weight we carry. That suitcase full of revenge fantasies? We’ve got to drop it and never pick it up again. Let it go. I know, they deserve everything in that case, but this is not about them anymore. We’re saving ourselves here.
We’re not running from the person by the way – we still have to work with them. We’re running from the suitcase of revenge fantasies. Because it’s that desire to exact justice that will keep us stewing in anger. And that will cripple our business dealings with that person. Maybe it won’t be visible at first, but bitterness is a slow burn, and will eventually erupt. That’s some self-inflicted damage we really want to avoid.
Basically, what we’re doing is forgiving. And it doesn’t make things rosy and easy, or even repair trust. Forgiveness is not friendship. It’s not even necessarily reconciliation. It takes boundaries, caution and some time to restore broken trust. Forgiveness is just releasing our hold on the angry suitcase. It’s letting God exact justice. Then we’re freed from the stewing and conspiring and the hurting. It takes that responsibility off of our plate, and allows us to move forward.
How does one work with difficult people?
Drop the angry suitcase, adjust boundaries, repeat.
What has helped you through difficult work relationships?
I’d love to hear it in the comments below!
Yes, just as in any industry, Real Estate has its bad guys. (Bad ‘people’ doesn’t have the same ring to it, but trust me, this is men and women) The existence of bad guys is not the surprising part. Although, if it does surprise you, and you can’t imagine what a Real Estate Bad Guy might do or look like, read this, this and this. Bad guys exist in every other area of life, why should Real Estate be an exception? The surprising part is why they continue to succeed. Who is to blame for their continued success? Why do bad guys win?
Because you let them. I know, it sounds harsh. But this is actually an empowering piece of information.
Here’s the deal. The only people that really see what goes on behind the Real Estate stage are agents and brokers. Even if they witnessed injustice, their hands are tied. They are legally not able to report 3rd party problems. They are tight-lipped about the behind the scenes because they must be.
Then there are buyers and sellers. These are the people who experience injustice firsthand. They are the ones whose agent buys their house at a deep discount, then turns and sells if for a huge profit. (Did you know it is illegal for Real Estate salespeople to flip houses?) The client feels robbed – as they should. They were robbed. But alas, they do not know they are the hero in the story, so the bad guy gets away.
How can you possibly stop the bad guy?
If you, as a consumer, feel that an agent has been unethical in any way, you can contact the Manitoba Securities Commission or the Manitoba Real Estate Association.
Why should you bother?
Because you are the only one who can. You are the only one who can stop them, who can say, ‘hey, this happened and it’s wrong’. And if you don’t, the bad guy roams free, and continues to inflict these woes on others. Widows. Daughters. Young couples. Emotionally vulnerable. The elderly. The unaware.
I’m talking from personal experience here. Decades ago, long, long, loooong before I was ever a REALTOR®, I was a victim too. The fraudulent misrepresentation that happened costed me aprox. $15,000. It was a difficult time, and I was dealing with other things, so I left it. I didn’t say anything, and now it’s too late. I wish I had said something. It would have helped a lot of people.
To this day, I see that same agent inflicting the same thing on others. And I can’t do anything about it. Except this. I can tell you where it’s at and show you the cape you’re wearing.
You are the hero in this story, but only for a time. Then your turn is over and the cape is passed to the next person. And passed and passed, until someone does something to stop it.
Please pass the message along, so others know their rights and options too.
They probably don’t know that they’re the hero in the story.
Feel like hearing a story about Real Estate life in the Great White North?
I remember showing a house once, where the driveway was covered with a fresh 3-inch layer of snow. It was the gorgeous, fluffy, sparkly kind, and was only marked by tire tracks of the sellers’ vehicle as they had apparently left. My buyer and I each parked our vehicles. I got out, and turned toward my buyer’s vehicle. She stayed in her car. Snow surrounded my shoe and dusted onto the top of my foot. I walked over to her vehicle, creating a fluffy wake as I walked.
Looking confused, she rolled down her window and asked, “Oh. … you’re not going to shovel the driveway?”
I’m pretty sure I was now the one wearing a confused look. I’m not sure exactly what I said – I was confused by the suggestion that I should shovel the driveway. Whatever I said, we braved the snow together, and made it into the house.
Once inside though, the fluffy snow had turned to puddles on our feet. We slid our shoes off, and proceeded to track wet feet through the house. What could we do? Shovel the driveway? Mop the floor? Rummage through the cupboards for a paper towel or a rag or mop? Not likely. So the showing continued and we left our trail of prints. I hated leaving foot prints on their kitchen floor. (What kind of business card is that?) It was just awkward.
So I’m thinking about wearing moccasins. Still, I won’t have extras for my clients. So, if you are a seller (or anyone who is expecting company for any reason?), and you do not prefer wet socks and toes dripping prints all over, shoveling your driveway would solve a few problems for a few people.
What would you do? Would you rummage for towels, or leave it?
More importantly … do you shovel your driveway when you’re expecting someone?
It’s coming. You know it is. Go ahead and nestle a little deeper into your cozy sweater. That’s sure what I’m going to do. I’ll wrap my hands around a warm mug of coffee too, and share a few stories of Rural Realtor-ing in the snow.
First, you have to know, that for much of the time I wear pumps. I love pumps. Pumps love me. But snow and pumps… well, it’s an awkward love-hate triangle that we’re working through. For the purpose of these stories though keep in mind that in each one I’m wearing some kind of fabulous pumps.
So, last year a client arranged to see a beautiful house in the country. That day, a blizzard blew into town. It didn’t deter either of us though. Nor wind, nor sleet, nor crazy whiteout snow shall keep us from our course. Except when her car became stuck in a drift on the driveway… that was a long cold evening…
Another time I had met with my sellers in their home. It was another cold Canadian winter night, though blizzard-less this time. As I returned to my vehicle, I noticed a tire was flat. I tromped around to the trunk (in my heels), hoping to find tools, or a spare tire or something. I secretly hoped opening the trunk would somehow reset reality – that I would close it again and the tire would magically be full. Yeah, that didn’t happen. There was a spare tire though, so that was something.
My toes and everything else began to feel pretty icy out there in my thin business attire. But, the show goes on. So I lugged the spare tire out of the trunk, and leaned it against the car. I stared at it for a minute, wishing I had worn a snowsuit. I have this habit though, of not wearing snow suits to meetings.
The house door suddenly squeaked open, and my seller came out with a jack in his hand. “Having some trouble?” he smiled from under his scarf. He looked pretty warm and toasty in his big snow suit. He pointed me inside to warm up my icy toes and fingers while he changed my tire.
And, in case you were wondering, yes. It does feel a little weird to have your client rescue you.
There are more fun winter stories to share – like the time a client expected me to shovel a path for them (in my heels) – but I’ll save it for another time.
Does your job afford you some awkward fun in winter too?