How do you respond when a potential client demands to know your stance on a controversial issue, and you know they won’t work with you if you disagree?

  • In a polarized political climate, clients may press real estate agents and brokers on their personal politics.
  • Real estate professionals' job is to serve each client to the best of their ability regardless of political affiliations. But not every client is a match.
  • To formulate an appropriate response in a tense circumstance, remember that respect is key, say something nice or don't say anything, and always fight fire with water.

You are a real estate professional who is dedicated to doing the best possible job for each and every one of your clients, regardless of their political affiliation.

When a potential client demands to know where you stand with respect to the current administration or some other controversial issue, how do you respond?

I love hearing from Inman readers and always learn from their comments, especially when they disagree with me. I recently wrote a column that began with the following two paragraphs:

“Some of the most memorable moments at every Inman Connect are the key insights and the sage advice that puts everything into perspective.

“This year’s Inman Connect New York was no exception, starting with a proclamation from staff at The New York Times — ‘We love Donald Trump — he’s been great for our business!'”

A few days later, I received the following email from a reader:

“I don’t understand this comment: This year’s Connect was no exception, starting with the New York Times’ surprising proclamation — “We love Donald Trump — he’s been great for our business!’

“We subscribe to the NYT, and spent several hours yesterday reading it cover to cover. We know what the NYT thinks of Donald. There is no context for your quote above. I was just getting ready to subscribe … but now need to check in with you Bernice, and double-check if you support Donald Trump.”

How should you respond?

The question is: How do you respond when a potential client demands to know your stance on a controversial issue, and you know they won’t work with you if you disagree with their opinion?

We all know that no agent is a fit for every potential client. When you realize a client may not be a fit for your business, do you:

  • Try to make the situation work?
  • Refer the person to another agent who may be a better fit?
  • Become so angry that you will never hear from this person again?

3 maxims

As a real estate broker for over 30 years, there are three maxims I’ve tried to follow. The last two also apply to my work as a columnist.

1. ‘Sign of Respect’ 

Jon Douglas made it very clear what he expected from his agents who worked for the “Sign of Respect.”

Every one of our clients, no matter who they were, whether they were selling a $50,000 condo or $50 million estate, deserved the highest quality, most professional service that we could deliver.

If we couldn’t deliver that level of service, we could take our license elsewhere.

2. ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.’

3. ‘The next time you feel like fighting fire with fire, remember that the fire department uses water.’

With these three maxims as a framework, here’s how I responded to this reader’s letter:

“You could have knocked me over with a feather when the editor of the NY Times Magazine told everyone in the room at CEO Connect that, and I quote, ‘The NY Times loves Donald Trump — he’s been great for our business.’ Their readership has exploded, and their profits have improved along with it.

“I’ve had my readers tell me I was in the tank for both sides because I do my best to represent things honestly and objectively. The truth of the matter is that I can’t control what happens in Washington or anything else in the world. The only thing I can control are the actions I choose to take. 

“My commitment is to do everything in my power to help the people’s lives and businesses I am blessed to serve. That’s my promise to you and BTW, if you disagree with something I write, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I welcome your comments and wish you the best in 2017!”

This reader’s response made me glad that I responded the way I did:

“Thanks for your lovely reply. 

“I have been fighting bronchitis for 6 weeks, and finally got an x-ray, then cat scan, then biopsy yesterday.

 “It’s NOT my old friend bronchitis … it’s advanced stage lung cancer. The tumor in my upper right lung is as big as a softball!  

“I guess I don’t have the energy to even think about Donald Trump right now. After I get the biopsy results back tomorrow, I have to enter the world of finding the best oncologist, cancer hospital, etc.

“You are the best!” 

You never know when what you say and do can create a positive impact on someone’s life.

More importantly, this agent’s situation is a wake-up call for all of us about what matters most in life.

If you or a loved one were facing that situation, where would you be putting your energies?

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at and

Email Bernice Ross

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