May 2018

(3 Ways to be Heard)

I am half Greek and half German, and when I communicate about something I’m passionate about, there are probably two things you can expect from me: 1) I will believe I’m right, and 2) I will probably be loud. Just ask my wife Tracy, who is a gentle strong soul who believes we’re all entitled to our own opinion, and yet whose opinion I haven’t always gracefully embraced.
She as well as many people, both personal and professional, have been on the receiving end of what some call my Pitbull Passion. And though I prefer to call it my “Point of Passion”, its where I state my opinion (which I believe to be fact), and if the person on the receiving end doesn’t meet my wisdom with alliance, I become the Pitbull of repeat; restating my position over-and-over, only elevating the volume with each reiteration, to make my point more “right.”

Though my ego would like say my amplified demeanor is commanding the conversation, what has really happened at that moment is that I have lost the Art of Communication; which the Art of Communication is the ability to effectively communicate a message, have it received from the opposite party, have it responded to with proper facts, and then have it returned for a win-win resolve.
Unfortunately, the lost Art of Communication is something I am seeing a lot more of in our industry. Recently, as Karma would have it, I was on the receiving end of a Pitbull, when a new agent busted into my office and proceeded to “passionately” lecture me on the value of one of my oceanfront listings. He wanted me to accept his less-than appealing offer that neither my clients nor I were interested. Now, keep in mind, I am very supportive of agents offering their opinions of value that I can use to make adjustments, or help the seller be more educated on the market. But like my wife, I’ve discovered that I too, am not a fan of “Pitbull Passion”, especially when it is a) unsolicited, b) uneducated and c) not fact driven.

Reality Check: Communication is only effective if the receiving party can hear it; and hearing has nothing to do with volume.
The incident reminded me of something my college professor always impressed on us, which was the importance of “owning” a position in a debate. His rule of thumb was to “Make sure our position was rooted in facts and always articulated in a polite and civil manner.”
So in the realm of the Art of Communication, what does “owning” our position look like in the throes of negotiation? Here are three steps to success.

1. Listen, listen and listen: Most people in negotiations make the mistake of formulating their comeback, before their client (or spouse) has even finished their sentence. The Art of Communication remembers that “A closed mouth means open ears.” That means, if you can learn to hear the need of the person in front of you, and address that need, you are already one thousand steps ahead of the game.

2. Know your facts and recognize your opinions: The late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said it best when he was quoted as saying “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” As much as you might not want to admit it, there’s a possibility that you may not be the oracle to all. In our business it is not enough to think you are right. You must show up with the facts and be right. At the same time it is also okay to simply have a personal opinion. Your job as the agent for the buyer or seller of your deal is to know the difference, and make sure you properly communicate it.

3. Stay Focused on the End Goal. The end goal to the Art of Communication is to have all parties reach a win-win. This is how we close deals my friends, but it can only happen if the wall of miscommunication remains down. As a lead negotiator, your job is to manage your communication style. This means maintaining polite dialogue between the clients and all agents, even those who don’t know what they are doing. This means active listening to hear the needs of those with skin in the game. And this especially means keeping down the volume (including all caps emails) when things get passionate.

As a man and as an Real Estate Broker who is constantly working on raising my personal bar of professionalism, learning to tone down my Pitbull Passion has been one of the best personal and professional lessons I’ve embraced. This gem of a lesson has taught me that being louder doesn’t make me right. That my German mother’s rule of “Keep politeness at all costs” is a must. And as negotiating a deal is an emotional game, it has taught me that my Greek passion and volume is best reserved for the “Opa” and Ouzo, rather than the client, co-worker or spouse.

May low volume negotiations be with you.

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