It boggles my mind how so many dismiss ideas, data, philosophies, opinions and lessons that others can provide simply because they disagree with them, find them different or just don’t like them. Now is a time for listening, even to those you loathe. Here’s why.

Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent the past six years working for Zillow Group. He retired in August 2018 but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His weekly Inman column publishes every Wednesday.

Roughly 20 minutes after last week’s inaugural column was linked to in the Inman Facebook group, someone posted, “Inman’s been Zillowed.”

Seems the commenter took umbrage with Inman allowing a former Zillow Group employee to pen a column. They were quite passionate in their disdain, hurled a few personal insults, and the conversation pretty much degraded from there. They didn’t seem to have issue with what the column said (I’m not real sure they even read it), rather they have genuine contempt for my former employer, and by their own admission, me.

I don’t care. Yes, I got passionate in my responses, but believe me, in dealing with “brand detractors” for years in my previous position, many a lesson was learned — primarily not to take things personally. That’s hard, really hard, but necessary if one is to remain sane or at least be somewhat pleasant to hang around with.

There is something about this sort of behavior though that has mystified me for ages, long before I started working for Zillow Group.

It’s how so many dismiss ideas, data, philosophies, opinions and lessons that others can provide simply because they disagree with them, find them different or just don’t like them.

I don’t get it.

Why would you limit who you listen to just because of where they work? Why dismiss the thoughts and ideas of someone because you think their business philosophies don’t align with yours? Heck, why ignore the opinions of someone because they belong to a different political party than you?

Here’s the deal folks: Everyone is different. Everyone has different things that motivate them, different goals — in business and in life. Humanity isn’t a collection of homogeneous beings marching lockstep into a sea of sameness. Thank goodness, as the world would be a pretty boring place without individuality.

People ignore those they disagree with or don’t like because that’s the easy thing to do.

Winston Churchill allegedly said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Listening is never easy. And it’s even harder when you’re trying to listen to those you disagree with. Listening becomes almost impossible when it’s your enemies doing the talking.

Hard as it is, listen we must.

Venture off into any discussion on real estate marketing, lead generation or prospecting, any talk of how to improve one’s business, and you’ll see comments like these:

  • “A referral-based business is the best way to succeed.”
  • “Those who can’t generate their own business buy leads.”
  • “List to last, you can’t have a viable business only serving buyers.”
  • “Open houses are for agents to find buyers. The actual listing never sells.”
  • “Jay Thompson is an idiot because he used to work for Zillow.”
  • “No real agent would ever work for Redfin.”
  • “You get what you pay for.”

It goes on, I think you get the point. I’ve seen agents at each others virtual throats because one is a “door-knocking, cold-calling jerk” and the other is a “internet-lead-buying loser.”

A Redfin agent gets attacked because (gasp!) they make a salary, and only commissioned people work hard. The commissioned agent gets raked across the coals because their old-school way of doing business doesn’t mesh with the needs of today’s consumer.

Everyone seems set in their ways and convinced “the other side” is wrong, always.

Rather than embrace differences in thought, we stop listening to those who think differently than us. Why do we stop? I think it’s part human nature, part laziness, part conflict avoidance. There’s a big dose of prejudice in there too, if we’re honest.

Whatever it is, it needs to stop.

Labeling others hinders personal and professional growth. Don’t confuse the part with the whole. Stop writing people off because their thoughts, personalities, feelings, beliefs, political party, employer, age, gender, skin color — whatever — is something you find issue with.

We all need to learn and grow. No one knows everything. Your “enemies” can teach you, and you can teach them. You don’t have to embrace those you disagree with. No need to join hands around the campfire and sing “Kumbaya.” No one, except maybe Coca-Cola, expects the world to sing in perfect harmony.

What you can do is keep an open mind. Listen to those you disagree with. Try looking at things from their perspective.

Henry David Thoreau nailed it with, “It is never too late to give up your prejudices.”

Do that, give them up, or at least be cognizant of your prejudices. Just that will help minimize their effect. Open your heart and mind to how others think, and you just might find yourself growing your business in ways you never thought possible.

Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and retiree in Seattle, as well as the mastermind behind Now Pondering. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty. 

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