There are incompetent real estate agents of all stripes and, yes, we need to "raise the bar."

But we also need to stop assuming that other agents are incompetent as soon as there is the slightest problem with a real estate transaction.

We need to stop telling the world that real estate agents are incompetent because we are making it hard for competent agents to do their jobs.

Our clients have no contact with "the other agent." That makes it easy for us to blame "the other agent" if there is a problem — and I cannot recall ever having a real estate transaction in which there wasn’t some problem or unexpected issue.

We don’t listen to each other or give each other the benefit of the doubt. We just assume that the other agent is an idiot, or doesn’t care, or is inexperienced or incompetent.

"The bar needs to be raised," we say. For some that means additional education and training requirements for new agents. Others would also like to see tougher licensing requirements. We go on and on. Agents spend hours complaining about other agents.

If an agent does not pick up the phone, it isn’t because he is at the dentist having a root canal performed. It is because he is lazy and probably out playing golf.

If we get a lowball offer on one of our listings, we may think the other agent is clueless, when the reality is the other agent has a buyer that is clueless and the agent is just doing his job, which is to advise and represent.

I wish I had a nickel for every time another agent has treated me like an incompetent idiot. We are an independent bunch and most of us have strong ideas about how to do our jobs, and we believe that we do our jobs better than any other agent.

For some of us there is a reason why we are self-employed. We are used to taking charge and we want to be in control. We forget that our way isn’t always the only way.

When we treat others as though they are incompetent buffoons, they tend to rise to the occasion. When we blame the other agent for any little problem in front of our clients, we create more problems for ourselves and make the relationship between buyers and sellers adversarial.

There are more negative things written about real estate agents than there are positive, but I refuse to believe that most agents are bad or stupid.

Our industry experts tell us that we need to do a better job. They paint a picture of real estate agents being a bunch of technologically impaired unprofessional morons, and we believe it. We continue to see "the other agent" as a person who got to be an agent because of the low bar.

We need to spend more time listening to each other and working together. We need to give other agents the benefit of the doubt by assuming they do things a little differently, instead of assuming that they are incompetent.

We need to occasionally stick up for each other, and we need to recognize and thank the agents that do a really great job even if they are our competitors.

I am proud of what I do and who I am, and I work hard to do the very best that I can, and I am not convinced that I am unusual.

Many of the people who like to tell me how I should do my job could not do my job. I am not technologically backward, and I am not clueless about what consumers want or about how to serve them.

I am not incompetent — I am highly educated, skilled and experienced, as are many of my peers. As a group we are treated with much less respect than we deserve by the general public and by our own industry.

We can always improve our own performance and that is where we need to stay focused, and we need to stop assuming that our peers are all clueless and incompetent and listen to them and work with them.

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