Co-written with Lynn Wheeler.
Yep, it’s that time of year again: The time when you’re running crazy with your hair on fire and your phone melting in your hands; when you need six more hours in the day to get everything done; when you’re juggling multiple offers, crazy appraisals and horrifying inspection reports.
It’s that time when you become an unrecognizable blur to everyone around you.
It’s the busy season.
The busier we get, the more likely we are to lose our balance in the transaction, whether it be with clients or with our fellow agents.
Stress can sometimes hinder our ability to be great agents, and it can also negatively impact our income and career if we aren’t careful.
To avoid this level of stress, try incorporating these 10 tips for maintaining your zen in the midst of chaos.
We live in the age of technology. It is so simple and convenient to send a quick text or email, especially when you are busy; but never forget the value of human moments.
Tone is extremely difficult to read through texts and emails. Because of this, your messages might fail to clearly communicate the thoughts you are trying to send, and people might misunderstand the meaning behind your words.
Key strategy: Talk more, write less. Picking up the phone and interacting with your client or co-agent allows you to build a relationship and partnership that can push a transaction through difficult phases.
There’s probably nothing less relevant to the transaction than how you — the agent — feel.
If one agent gets emotional — angry, irritated, distressed or annoyed — and the other one stays cool, who wins every time?
Do your clients hire you with the hope and expectation that you’ll use the most substantial monetary transaction in their lives to explore and express your personal emotional state?
Always remember you are not the principle — and the transaction belongs to the principles.
Your advice matters. Your experience and expertise matter. But you, personally, don’t.
Key strategy: Stop using the word “we.” So often, one agent will say to another: “We’ll fix the water heater, but we aren’t going to deal with the garage door!” From now on, try this: “The sellers will fix the water heater, but they decline to repair the garage door.”
Watch your effectiveness increase and your stress decrease as you remove yourself from the equation.
3. Manage expectations
There are so many different phases where things can go horribly wrong in a transaction: financing, showings, multiple offers, negotiations, inspections, appraisal and closing. By setting the expectation, your client will be more calm and prepared when bad things happen.
Key strategy: Create a road map that illustrates how the transaction flows from start to finish, and show your clients where bumps and obstacles are most likely to occur.
Walk your clients through the process of handling those obstacles as a team. You will have infinitely smoother transactions if your clients are prepared and educated to make wise and reasonable choices along the way.
4. Don’t take the bait
Bullies are always trying to create a reaction. And when you react, they win.
Everyone in this business has encountered hyper-aggressive agents, but you’re under no obligation to enter the emotional state someone else is trying to put you in. In fact, it would probably be best not to enter it at all.
Key strategy: One and done. Very often, if an aggressive agent takes one big swing and gets no reaction whatsoever, they’ll settle right down, and the rest of the deal will be peachy.
Allow them that first big punch. Don’t strike back, and let them see they’re trying to plug into a dead socket. Again, the less emotional agent wins every time.
5. Kill ‘em with kindness
Everyone encounters a challenging agent or client at some point in their career. We all struggle to deal with them.
Our gut reaction is to fight back and stand up for ourselves when an agent plays mean. However, a lot of times the most effective strategy is to do what they least expect: kill them with kindness.
Key Strategy: Burning one bridge seems to have residual effects, so treat everyone with respect. By treating others with respect, you will naturally be treated with respect.
It can be easy to lose your cool and burn a bridge with a client or co-agent, but you don’t want that client or co-agent sharing their story with others, do you? Take the high road, and you will find yourself rewarded.
6. Crazy ain’t your problem
There are a lot of crazy people in the world and many of them buy houses, so get ready for them!
You can do the best you can, but that might not stop people from going bananas. Keep in mind that when people are going a little crazy over something, it only speaks to their issues, not yours. And it really isn’t your problem — it’s theirs.
When a client or another agent is going off on you, it’s easy to feel down. But ask yourself this: would I do the same to someone else? If the answer is “no,” trust your standards and shut your ears.
Key strategy: Remember you aren’t your job. Remind yourself that in moments of frustration, clients don’t see you as a person — they see you as a Realtor, and they’re just reacting to that role. This goes back to depersonalizing. It’s the zen key.
7. Aim for the result, not the win
Agents are competitive by nature, and sometimes that competitive spirit can get in the way of transactions. Remember: It is not about winning — it is about getting the result your client wants.
Key Strategy: Allow everyone to win. Sometimes getting the best result for your client means allowing someone else to think they got one over on you, and that’s okay if you know you’re getting the result your client wants.
8. Specify your job
One of the best ways to help your client, yourself, and the transaction is to establish what you can and cannot control from the beginning.
If you want to spend as much time as possible massively stressed out, we suggest you make a lot of promises regarding things you ultimately don’t control. But if you’d rather keep your blood pressure down and your clients’ satisfaction up, draw bright lines around what you do and don’t control.
Key strategy: Sum it up. For both buyer consultations and listing interviews, have a summary explanation of your role and the roles of other involved parties (e.g. lender, inspectors and appraisers).
Also specify your client’s role, and try saying: “I’ll do my part as well as it can be done — you won’t have to think twice about anything under my responsibility. It’s all the other parts and pieces that can get tricky, but I’ll help you monitor those things, anticipate problems and head them off when we can.”
9. Never apologize for your client
There is no better way to give another party the advantage than to apologize for your client’s actions.
For example, if your client wants to submit a low offer and you say to the other agent, “I am really sorry, just do your best,” you have not only completely negated your fiduciary responsibility to represent your client, you have also given the other side the upper hand on negotiations.
Key Strategy: Be silent and strong. Staying neutral will always work to your advantage. Instead of apologizing for your client, play up the positives.
Think about what your client would want you to do if they were listening in on your conversations with the other side.
10. Don’t burn out
We tend to work on a bell curve. As we get busier, we get more effective — up to a point. Past that point, we lose our effectiveness.
Be self-aware and take breaks to keep yourself energized, focused and at the top of the effectiveness curve. Small breaks throughout the work day and carefully scheduled vacation breaks will do wonders for you.
Key strategy: Own your time. Establish a firm weekly work schedule, with regular hours and days off. Lots of agents will tell you this isn’t possible, but go find one of the many hugely successful ones who do maintain a controlled schedule, and ask them how they do it.
Your good clients will respect the working schedule you establish, and the rest represent a net loss to you anyway — especially in the busy season!
Spend your time with the good ones.
Lynn Wheeler serves as 2nd Vice President and Branch Manager for The F.C. Tucker Company Keystone office.
Brian Walker manages a top producing Indianapolis branch office for Indiana’s largest independent real estate firm, the F. C. Tucker Company. He’s been in the business since 1995, and resides with his wife and daughter in Carmel, Indiana.