The quest for personal growth in the real estate industry is common, and sometimes we forget that this quest is not an individual one. Starting with an almost child-like quality that serves just about every aspect of one’s life, here are six ideas to help keep your focus on what really matters.

  • The relationships we have with others can be the most wonderful and rewarding aspects of our lives.
  • Minimize distractions so that you can be completely present.
  • It's never about the deal. It's always about the people.

Many of us are deep into the mechanics of running a successful real estate businesslead generation, transaction management, marketing, planning, scripts, dialogues and negotiating, just to name a few. But the most important aspect of our business (and our lives) is something that’s easily overlooked: the relationships we forge.

We connect not only with our clients but also with other industry professionals. Negotiation, for example, is a study and practice of mine, yet no matter the circumstances, the solution is never found within any given transaction, sale or “deal.” The answer to our challenges is always about the people and the relationships we have with them.

The relationships we form with others can be the most wonderful and rewarding aspects of our lives and therefore, our business. However, these same relationships can also challenge us to the point of questioning our sanity.

Most of us have heard that communication is key in any relationship. Yet in just about any real estate transaction, we find ourselves amid a collision of personalities and perspectives without having much knowledge of what’s driving people — or for that matter, what they know about each other.

This all points to a worthy ideal of learning not only how to cultivate strong and healthy relationships but actually spending quality time doing it within any business environment.

I’ll assume we’ve all read Dale Carnegie’s masterpiece, “How To Win Friends And Influence People.” If you haven’t, go get your copy and read it before you read another word of this article.

The quest for personal growth in the real estate industry is common, and sometimes we forget that this quest is not an individual one. Starting with an almost child-like quality that serves just about every aspect of one’s life, here are six ideas to help keep your focus on what really matters.

1. Curiosity

One of the most fulfilling and satisfying characteristics a person can have is curiosity. It’s a genuine interest in others and what makes them who they are. To those of us who either do not possess this quality or have never braved the storm of being a parent, this characteristic in others might annoy you.

You might find yourself thinking: “How many questions can a person ask?” or “If I hear you ask ‘why’ one more time, I’ll implode!” However, curiosity is a trait that easily diffuses challenging or awkward situations, helps you learn about others and when performed in a genuine fashion, silently compliments other people by putting them in a superior position.

This takes practice because many of us find ourselves in an advisory or consultant role, and we inherently believe at a core level that we should have all the answers. News flash — we don’t.

Curiosity helps you to determine how best to work with that other agent, or what your seller client really needs from the sale of his or her home. Countless times I have spoken with agents I’m helping through a negotiation, only to find out they don’t really know why their client is selling. “They just want the best price,” they say. Although that may be true, it’s most likely not about the money.

2. Compassion

This one is on the top of everyone’s list, yet few of us know exactly what it is. John M. Gottman, Ph.D., the country’s foremost relationship expert, says that emotional intelligence is the key to a successful relationship, and a fundamental component of emotional intelligence is compassion.

The definition of compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. “C’mon, what’s so sorrowful about a real estate transaction,” you ask? Nothing, really. It’s never about the deal. It’s always about the people.

As professionals, we know there are many different and unique circumstances that cause a person or family to change residences. Learning to show your compassion for any of these situations lets everyone know you care — really care — and that you will do everything you can to allay the issue.

I once knew an agent who did nothing but short sales. Very good at closing them she was, yet in speaking with her it was obvious that she held a bit of contempt for someone with these financial and life-altering circumstances. It was a closing, and it was about the money.

After some time, she cultivated true compassion for her clients. People noticed, and it changed her life in an amazing and positive way, right along with the people she helped. We need to recognize when the people we work with are facing challenges and provide kindness and support for them. At the very least, we all want to be acknowledged.

3. Presence in the moment

We all need attention — to be seen, heard and recognized. Social media loves this about us, doesn’t it? We all need to know that we matter and are a part of something larger. Think about the ways in which you need and seek attention each day, and then consider how you might provide this for your coworkers, fellow agents, other industry professionals and your family, too.

One way to be attentive toward the people in your circles is to minimize distractions so that you can be completely present with them. Turn toward them and listen with the intention of really hearing.

Resist the urge to share all the thoughts that come up in your head when they tell you something. If that’s a problem for you, try repeating what they just said in summary format before you move on.

It also helps to listen with your heart rather than your head when people are expressing themselves. Let them share their thoughts and feelings before interjecting your opinion or your solution, or going back to whatever you were working on.

Oftentimes, people just need to be paid attention to and feel heard. If you’re too busy to have a conversation with someone because you have a life-size to-do list calling your name, politely let them know you’ve heard them and would enjoy getting back to them another time. Yes, there are people that bleed drama, and we have a business to run, but that’s no cause to snub them.

4. Appreciation

How many times this week did you tell someone that he or she inspires you or looks great today? Be genuine about it, too. I’m not talking about when I get an offer on a listing, and the agent, who has never met me, says she is really looking forward to working with me. That’s more like an unsolicited endorsement on LinkedIn.

When you offer genuine appreciation for the people you work with — when you show respect and acknowledge someone’s professionalism — that immediately elevates the relationship. So don’t be afraid to pay someone a compliment. Offer praise in public situations or just show your gratitude in a given situation. Most of all, be sincere.

5. Acceptance

It’s often said that anyone can be happy, fun and easy to get along with when everything is going as planned. However, when the stuff hits the fan and there are challenges aplenty, that is when a person’s character is revealed, to others and to oneself.

You must learn to accept others for who they are and what they stand for without taking it as a threat to your personal space. Allow others to fill their own void and they will. When a particular issue comes up and it becomes uncomfortable, people have a tendency to show their true colors. Let them. Don’t allow it to influence yours. You are learning to be a more compassionate and build better relationships.

When something comes unraveled is when you practice that the most. Accept others, don’t change them, and let them follow your example if they choose to.

6. Warm body language

I knew a young man that was so very enamored by his smartphone. He took it everywhere. Loved it forever and ever. He even paid much attention to it when he and I sat down to have a meaningful conversation. Sure, he participated, but I felt he wasn’t quite there.

Do you know anyone like this? If you don’t, it just might be you! Yes, I love (or maybe hate) my smartphone, too, but the moral of the story here isn’t about that. It’s about being present, like in No. 3, but also being conscious of your body language.

When you hear something someone says, be careful how you react. Not with your words but with your body.

Early in my career, I showed the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood at the perfect price to some great clients. It was, in fact, perfect for them. When we walked in, they were very excited.

Rounding the corner into the kitchen, I was blindsided by unbelievably bright yellow cabinets. I thought I was on the middle planet in a solar eclipse. Although I said nothing, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why my clients passed on this seemingly perfect home for them.

Obviously, I did figure it out, didn’t I? Be mindful of the way you express yourself. People are watching. You’ve heard enthusiasm is contagious? Yes, but it’s the body language and the tone of your words that moves people. Choose and use yours so that the impact you leave with others is a positive one.

Bonus tip

No example of winning with relationships would ever be complete without an emphasis on communication. When in doubt, communicate. No seller I’ve ever met liked the listing agent whose last communication was the car’s taillights as it drove off after the agreement was signed.

Don’t just rely on your email or a text. Call once in awhile. Relationships eat communication. That’s how they survive. Feed them and feed them often. Remember, none of us would have any level of success without the relationships we have forged along the way.

It was Isaac Newton who said, “If I have seen further, it was only by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Let’s all take the time and effort necessary to become amazing at building and cultivating great relationships.

Jeff Lowen is the managing director of The Real Estate Expert Advisor, LLC. a real estate consulting, coaching and sales firm with Keller Williams Realty. Follow him on Twitter.

Email Jeff Lowen.

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