Think about the people you know who make you feel good whenever they reach out. Their emails are a pleasure to read, their texts are sheer perfection and even when the phone rings, you probably pick it up if you see it’s from them.
Now think about the opposite. Those people who leave you feeling drained, frustrated or angry after every interaction. Whether it’s a client or colleague, there are some people whose communication skills generate hurt feelings and bad blood more often than not.
Maybe you sometimes find yourself wondering how you come across to others, especially when they seem to be upset for no reason. Maybe you’re just starting out in the real estate business and grappling with the endless stream of communication it requires. Maybe you’ve been in the industry a long time but you’re starting a new niche, a new brokerage, or a new market focus and need to up your game and put your best foot forward.
Whatever the case, make sure you’re not making any of these deal-breaking communication mistakes.
I recently got an email from a real estate writer who I had never met. She wanted to hop on a call with me and get the lowdown on how I write real estate content so well. It seems she didn’t have as many clients as she wanted, and she felt that I could tell her some inside secrets.
I told her the truth — that I write well for real estate professionals because I got my real estate license, practiced real estate, and devote a lot of time and effort to branching out, studying up and improving my skills. After that, I guess she lost interest in my help because I didn’t have a magic bullet to offer.
Do you know people who never reach out unless there’s something you can do for them? Who always seem to need a favor or some help with a problem? Some self-centered communicators forget even the most basic polite behavior, like saying, “How do you do?” Instead, they launch straight into a monologue about themselves.
Take a moment to check yourself during conversations. Start written communication with a greeting. Start phone calls with a minute or two of polite banter. If you’re calling for a favor or need, be sure that you offer something as well. Most of all, make time to reach out just to say “hi” or to offer service so that you’re not always coming from a place of “gimme gimme.”
Who do you know who is an expert at the eloquent sigh, eyeroll or headshake? Who will never come right out and state a fact or an opinion, but will make their opinion clear in some other way? I’m from the South, where passive-aggressiveness is an art form; my mother was a truly gifted practitioner.
If you were raised the way I was, it can seem downright rude to come out with your true thoughts and opinions. For women, especially, staying quiet and keeping your opinions to yourself may have been part of your early conditioning. In other cases, passive-aggressiveness comes from feeling that you aren’t valued or that your voice doesn’t matter.
The problem with passive-aggressiveness is that it puts everyone else in the position of having to interpret your non-verbal cues and try to accommodate what you won’t say. That’s not fair, and it’s not professional. There are times to keep your thoughts to yourself and times to speak up. Choose one or the other rather than trying to manage both through passive-aggressive behavior.
Do you sometimes lose track of what you’ve already said or find yourself repeating the same stories again and again? Do you bring up a topic that’s already been put to bed, hoping for a new outcome? What about rehashing something mentally again and again, unable to let it go?
Repetitive mental and verbal behaviors can come from anxiety or from a feeling that you haven’t yet had your say. Often, they take the form of “jokes” about a person or a topic or some aspect of the deal that you feel isn’t settled or that you’re hoping to renegotiate. It’s akin to passive-aggressiveness in both its annoyance factor and its psychological roots.
If a deal has been done, bringing up the same issues again (and again) won’t help. If you’ve had a disagreement, continuing to revisit it won’t make it better. If your team has collectively made a decision, returning to it repeatedly won’t invite a different outcome. Say what you need to say, make your feelings known and, if things don’t go your way, move on.
We all know what rudeness sounds like in verbal communication, but you may not have thought about how some of your written communication can be rude as well. Consider the following:
- TYPING WITH ALL CAPS SO THAT IT FEELS LIKE YOU’RE YELLING!
- Reaching out to someone with whom you originally spoke weeks or months ago and expecting them to wait for context clues as to what you’re talking about. Provide a one or two-sentence explainer upfront along the lines of the following:
Dear [Name], I so enjoyed our conversation at ICNY about [topic]. Forgive me for taking so long to follow up with you, but I find myself needing more information about [topic]. Would you have time for a quick call, or could you provide me with a link to the information you mentioned?
- Reaching out to someone new (especially with an ask) without an introduction or an indication of how you might know them or why they should help you. Check on LinkedIn for a colleague in common, or reach out to a mutual friend for an email intro.
- Reaching out to someone with no idea who they are or what they do. In the middle of their busy day, they shouldn’t have to follow up with you to explain to you why they’re not the person you need.
- Jumping to conclusions about tone or intent, especially in written communication. Unless there’s a real reason, assume that people are coming from a good place in their texts and emails instead of getting hurt or mad at perceived curtness.
Finally, some people communicate as if they’re not quite sure what’s going on and they’re depending on you to help them figure it out. While this is alarming enough in any circumstance, it’s especially deadly when communicating with clients or with the agent on the other side of the negotiating table.
One way to combat this is to keep your information organized and easily accessible so that you can reference it. Be mindful of details, including facts that are pertinent to the conversation. Even when you’re on the go, you need to get your facts straight before you interrupt someone else in the middle of their busy day.
Often, communication problems come from busyness or a simple lack of forethought. However, it’s worth slowing down and ensuring that the way you present yourself — in conversation, on the phone and online — shows you at your best.
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.