Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent 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.
Haters gonna hate, right?
That sums up much of the logic I used during my days in the employ of Zillow Group. Let me tell you, there were some brutally ugly things tossed around back in those days. People literally wishing me dead, ugly comments about my family — you name it, someone dished it out.
Although a certain level of immaturity obviously comes into play in these sorts of discussions, the underlying cause can probably be traced back to fear, uncertainty and doubt — sometimes wrapped up in the acronym “FUD.”
FUD. It’s been a thing for a long time. Debate rages on whether the first major target for haters was the fax machine or buyer agency. Regardless of who was first, it seems like there’s always something or someone to rage on.
Sadly, the discontent has all appearances of getting worse. Tempers seem to be shorter, arguments quicker to devolve into pointless finger pointing, name-calling and generally boorish behavior.
It’s not just frequency; there seems to be a rise in intensity as well. Little things that would normally pass by practically unnoticed now seem to fester and annoy us. There just seems to be an air of hopelessness. Lots of folks seem to be walking around in a daze, metaphorically surrounded in a cloud of fear, uncertainty and doubt. A little out of touch, hence a little snippy at times.
It’s hard to imagine why that might be.
I mean after all, less than five months ago we were ringing in a new year, and a new decade. Hope filled the air, as it often does that time of year. Plans and resolutions we made, and for the most part, we excitedly readied ourselves for a fresh start.
Who would have thought that the new decade would bring us an Iranian general killed in a drone strike (with subsequent missile launches and passenger jets accidentally shot down), the World Health Organization would be notified of the existence of a new coronavirus, followed by the first death from what would later be called “COVID-19.”
And that was all just the first 15 days. On the Day 16, the impeachment trial of the president of the United States began. By the end of the month, Kobe Byrant was dead, coronavirus was reported in the U.S. and the world started locking down. Then came February, then March, then April. Now June is right around the corner.
I think we’re all tired, and justifiably so.
So the air is laden with fear, uncertainty and doubt. It’s basically unavoidable. Makes you wonder, what can we do? Turns out, not much. Might as well wallow around in our sweatpants, pondering the what ifs, wondering what could have been, what should have been. We can throw virtual pity parties on Zoom with all our shut in friends. We can let FUD take over our lives.
Or, we can all paint watercolor pictures of rainbows and unicorns, weave flowers in our hair, join hands and sing the praises of sunshine and puppies as we affirm repeatedly that everything is going to be just fine. That we will come out of this better, faster and stronger.
Rather than wander about with either a dark cloud or a rainbow over our heads, let’s take under consideration mom’s basic rule that extremes in either direction are generally bad. We need to acknowledge that we’re living in unique times. Only those that remember the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 have any experience in this, and those people are quite rare. It’s okay to be sad, mad, annoyed, or even happy, cheerful and glad.
These crazy, unfamiliar times lead us to experience a wide range of emotions, and acknowledging that these emotions and feelings are real is the first step in helping to control them. It’s okay to feel sad or angry.
You don’t need to feel guilty when you’re happy. There is no right or wrong way to feel about all this. Don’t set expectations you can’t meet or have no control over. You’re not going to cure the virus or save the planet. But you can take care of you, of those you love and all your fellow citizens.
FUD can be countered by remembering the good that has come from this mess we’re in. I see people smiling more as they pass by. Yes, even with a face mask, you can see a smile. There are countless stories of people helping others.
There is an underlying feeling of solidarity, that we are all in this together and together we will get through it. We’ve all gained newfound appreciation and respect for those on the front lines — from medical staff to grocery clerks, delivery drivers and all those who make life happen.
On a smaller scale, we all have cleaner hands and now we can order takeout cocktails. The little things in life matter.
Remember your clients. If you think you suffer from fear, uncertainty and doubt, consider what your clients are going through. They have all the worries about jobs, the economy, family and life — plus they have the insanely stressful task of buying and/or selling a home on top of it all. I’m going through it now, trust me, it piles the FUD high and deep.
How to cope
In addition to acceptance, there are a couple of things I’ve found to help reduce the FUD in my life, or at least take the edge off of it.
Make ‘me time’
First, you need what my wife and I refer to as “me time.” Time set aside for you, just for you, to do whatever the heck you feel like doing. “Me time” is most effective when you take it alone, but it’s still useful when taken away from your regular partner. The point is a mini-getaway from your usual. It’s to break up the routine and to give you some time to just exhale.
Back when our schedules were super hectic, we actually scheduled “me time” on our calendars. Our only rule for the other person’s “me time” was no judging what they do — it’s their time, not yours. Find a way to take time just for you. It’s not selfish, it’s healthy.
I’ve talked about it before, but regular meditation has honestly changed my life. It is, hands down, the single most effective way to clear your head and put it in the right place. It’s difficult to describe the effects meditation can have, but in these challenging and stressful times, I’d encourage everyone to give it a try. Just five minutes a day — every day — can make an impact on how you see and feel things.
Fear, uncertainty and doubt are largely driven by misunderstanding. The more you understand and feel comfortable with a concept, the less likely you are to have fear and doubt creep into your thoughts and actions.
Look, you will never be an expert in every field, nor do you need to be. But you can gain tremendous insight and understanding of a subject by reading well-sourced and respected content. You must read past the headlines and think critically. Do that, and your fears of the unknown will ease.
That is what it’s about — easing your fears, uncertainty and doubt. You won’t eliminate the FUD, in fact you probably shouldn’t eliminate it. A little FUD keeps you on your toes. It provides a balanced view.
It’s when the FUD takes over and becomes all-consuming that trouble sets in. When you find yourself overwhelmed, take a deep breath, acknowledge that it’s a perfectly normal reaction, and then take some time, meditate, refocus. It’s not all puppies and rainbows out there, but there’s more than just a glimmer of hope. You’re resilient, you’ll be okay.
Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and retiree in Seattle, as well as the one spinning the wheels at Now Pondering. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty. “Retired but not dead,” Jay speaks around the world on many things real estate.
After 25 years, Inman Connect is coming to you. We’re transcending our legendary events in a live digital event, Inman Connect Now. Get ready for the top industry leaders plotting the path forward, new business ideas and opportunities, networking like you’ve never imagined it, and tons of exciting new magic, all straight to you. It’s all part of an epic new Inman experience, Connect Now, June 2-4, 2020. Click here to save your seat.