In 2015, Officer Jeff Davis, a 19-year veteran of the Dover Police department, went viral on YouTube when he did perhaps the funniest lip sync ever recorded. Performing to Taylor Swift’s hit single Shake it Off while behind the wheel of his patrol car, this man has the words and the moves down to a science.
When I’m having a bad days with the haters hating and the fakers faking, I pull up this video.
Every field of work has its crappy days with cantankerous clients, miserable mistakes and disastrous downfalls, and real estate seems to have its fair share of movie-worthy “terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days.”
So when the going gets tough, how do you get through it?
I posed this open-ended question to agents in a variety of online locales. What I got back was an array of ways that agents blow off steam when the pressure starts to mount, and in honor of Officer Davis, I’ve organized the top five below by inspirational song.
1. Let It Go
I’m probably the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen Frozen, but I do count myself among the masses who have gotten frighteningly sick of hearing its uber-popular song.
Despite the predictable Disney syrup-laden lyrics, letting it go by venting to a broker or a colleague was the no. 1 response to how agents deal with their work-related angst.
When you need an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on, the trusted colleague and work-friend is the one most agents turned to. These office besties supply you with the tissues, the coffee, the vodka shooters (sometimes all three at the same time), and they know which is appropriate based on your level of meltdown because they know you.
Then, once the emotion has passed, and you have gotten through the angst of the moment, they are the ones you brainstorm with to come up with solutions.
At my office, I have met a lovely group of ladies, and we get together regularly to discuss issues we are having ranging from work-life balance to specific contract problems. Having five or six minds from different walks of life working on a problem makes it much easier to come up with a solution.
Many agents admitted turning to their trusted and well-loved broker for support and help in times of stress. I’m blessed to have always had great brokers, and I’ve made my fair share of panicked weekend calls when something blew up and I needed help.
When I was a new agent, I also had a lot of specific contract questions that I was nervous about as I was still learning the ins and outs of the 45-page offers I was writing.
Most brokers have seen, heard or done it all, and their wealth of knowledge and solid perspective from years of experience are an excellent resource.
Remember, it’s not a sign of weakness to go to your broker for help, but instead, it shows you are open to comment, criticism and learning.
2. Raise Your Glass
Pink may be channeling our profession when she sings this song, as drinking was the no. 2 most-popular response on how to cope when things get rough. From wine to vodka, I learned a lot about various agents’ drinks of choice, and some agents just posted memes that certainly gave me more than a few chuckles.
It’s hard to tell on an open-ended Facebook poll how many people were serious with this response and how many were joking. I’m sure a large percentage of agents may imbibe from time to time to reduce stress as well as doing something else a little healthier and more proactive.
Hey, I’m not judging. If having a drink or two will lower your stress level and keep you out of prison in the long run, have at it.
3. Cats in the Cradle
You know the song. The little boy grows up having a parent too busy to play ball, and then when the dad gets old, the son has no time for his father. Then it’s the dad’s turn to feel rotten about not being there for his son growing up. It’s a story with a lot of meanings, but it’s a great way to introduce no. 3 on the list: put things in perspective.
From contract to close, the normal buy or sell cycle lasts about 60 days, give or take a few depending on how long you’ve been house hunting or how long it took to get an offer on the listing.
A few agents flat-out said that when the going gets tough, they remind themselves that no transactions last forever, which is a great point to remember.
No matter how awful a client may treat you, once the deal closes, you don’t have to work with him or her ever again if you don’t want to.
Once your commission hits your bank account, you can look back and think of what this transaction taught you, and hopefully, the paycheck and the sense of accomplishment are worth it.
4. Oops, I Did it, Again
Britney Spears may have been playing with some poor young man’s heart, but no. 4 is about our ability to take each new experience and try to learn something from it.
If handling something one way doesn’t work, think of other workarounds to navigate a situation rather than repeating mistakes.
A few agents suggested that if you are working with a particularly contentious person, maybe meeting somewhere face-to-face for a cup of coffee to hash out the issues would be helpful.
Many people don’t realize they are being rude or nasty in an email, or they do and are just more obnoxious when hiding behind a computer. It’s a lot harder to be a jerk when you have to look someone in the eye.
The same tactic can also work when you have a difficult client. Often a good in-person discussion of an issue will leave both parties feeling better than two days of emailing back and forth or even a lengthy phone conversation.
Often, it is the body language along with the words that remind people that although we often can move mountains, we aren’t impervious to angry tirades.
Also, avoid communicating by text unless you absolutely have to. In this world of instant gratification, we have to curb the instinct to reply instantaneously to everything.
Try to keep everything to phone calls and emails, as constantly feeling you have to watch your phone for an incoming text is exhausting and bad for your work-life balance.
If you have clients who need more handholding, maybe set expectations that you will call or email them once a day or once a week — whatever is appropriate for the current situation. Be clear with your communications, and make sure your client is on board with your plan.
If someone gets verbally abusive with you on the phone, it is best to remain calm, tell the offending party you do not wish to be spoken in this way, and when he or she calms down, to please call you back. This also gives you the time to take a step back think of possible ways to handle the current crisis.
I have to give a shout out to my broker who said that when in doubt, spend more time cultivating leads and prospective clients. This way, if something goes south and a deal falls apart, or you determine you just can’t work with a certain client, it’s not the end of the world.
5. Let’s Get Physical
Olivia Newton-John set off an aerobics frenzy when this song came out in 1981, but doing something physical rounds us out at no. 5.
Some people go for a long run or stationary cycle like they are training for the Tour de France to release stress and get the benefits of wonderful post-exercise endorphins.
One guy said he chops wood in the backyard until the urge to throttle someone has passed; his wife chimed in and said it was absolutely true.
Some people “stress clean,” which is a frenzied, thorough and fast-paced cleaning of a car, house, basement or whatever else you feel like ripping apart, cleaning and putting back together.
Living on a farm, I have a countless number of chores that always need doing, like picking manure out of a pasture or stacking hay.
Doing something physical that gets your mind off of the problem while accomplishing something else is often a great way to decompress while getting much-needed exercise. During this time a solution may pop into your consciousness “out of nowhere” because you have taken a break from obsessing over it.
Every industry, from police officers to real estate, has its own unique stressors, and some people manage their stress better than others.
Sure, sometimes shaking it off is easier said than done. But by using some creative thinking, setting up a great support system, setting boundaries, having a bottle of “emergency vodka” and participating in regular exercise, we can work on our ability to better process the parts of our career causing the most difficulty.
And if that doesn’t work, you can always start writing pop songs about the pitfalls of real estate sales.
Maria Dampman is the owner and manager of Smiling Cat Farm and a Virginia State licensed Realtor and ABR with Century 21 Redwood in Leesburg, Virginia. Visit her on Facebook or LinkedIn.