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We see the world through the lens of our own mindset, experiences, and expectations.  We get so absorbed by our own view of the world, we start projecting that view onto other people and circumstances.  Most of this stems from ego, plain and simple.  To make the (often subconscious) assumption that other people see the world the way we do. That they want the same things we want and chase the same things that we chase.   We do this in both our personal and professional relationships, however, this lesson never really started to hit home with me until I started a brokerage of my own.  

When you project yourself and your desires onto the people you are trying to teach, coach, lead, hire, recruit, motivate, or just cooperate with, you eliminate the possibility of crafting solutions that fit their specific needs. You are so busy trying to give them what you want that you completely miss the opportunity (and the need) to give them what they want.  You are so absorbed with getting them to see the world the way you see it, that you miss entirely the way in which they see it, and therefore you have no ability to influence them. Your desire to jam their perspective into yours makes you surrender complete control over the outcome. 

I have always found it a somewhat bizarre dichotomy that on one hand we all want to believe that we are completely unique – special butterflies of which there is no other duplicate or match on planet Earth – then, when it comes time to incentivize, motivate or teach other people, we take the approach that everyone is the same. We try to jam what we want down their throat until they don’t even remember what it is that they want. 

In the context of growing a real estate business as an agent or team as a team leader or even as a brokerage/broker; there are four specific areas I want to point out where projecting your desires onto other people can get you into trouble. I’ll share two now, and two more next week in Part Two of this newsletter. 

  1. Customers and Clients

It is not your house. It is not your life. It is not your decision. Who are you to stand between someone and the life they want, the home they desire, or the price they think is fair for their property? So often as real estate agents, we take our role as consultants and advisors much too far. We start to inject our own preferences, our own bias, and our own world-view into the transaction and into the things we say to our client. We get wrapped up in the competitive nature of the deal. We get so busy trying to “win” the deal or “win” the negotiations that we forget who we are supposed to be representing and what they want to get out of it.  “I think we can get you a better price”. Great, but sometimes the seller doesn’t care about a “better price” as much as they care about getting the deal done so they can get to their new job in Atlanta on time (for example). If you have ever found yourself shouting at your counterpart (agent on the other side of the deal) then it is no longer about your client it has become about you and your ego.  

Here are a few more: 

  • We don’t like working with a specific agent because of a difference in style and personality, so that colors the way we present an offer from that agent’s buyer to our seller.  Think that doesn’t happen? It happens all the time. It often has nothing to do at all with the strength of their buyer or their sincerity in closing the deal. 
  • We often make the mistake of over-emphasizing items like price or marketing in a listing presentation while completely missing the fact that the most important thing to the seller was working with someone who would slow down and take the time to explain details to them (as one of many examples. We chronically do a lot more talking and a lot less listening. 
  • We under-estimate the difficulty and stress associated with moving. Moving sucks. I think every agent should have to move every 2-3 years just to remind themselves of all the crap their clients have to deal with.  Yet, because we do transactions all the time and it becomes normal, we significantly under-estimate the stress and challenges our clients are going through in these moments. 

Bottom line is that our opinions are just that, opinions. Sometimes they don’t matter and sometimes they are just flat-out wrong.  Be cautious in allowing your perspective and your opinions to override and drown out the needs of your client. 

  1. Partnerships & Vendors  

A second area of business (and life) where it becomes critical to manage expectations and consider different perspectives is when it comes to your relationships with vendors and/or partnerships.  I will use myself as an example of what NOT to do here.  

I used to catch myself saying the following about people I was evaluating or judging as potential referral partners or vendors to work with:  “they need to work when I work, move when I move, respond when I respond.” I did this originally with mortgage and escrow officers, so not even people I was hiring for my team or brokerage, where the effect is magnified further. 

My attitude was very much that they need to be on when I am on. They need to have the same level of commitment that I have. I am sure many of you reading this can relate to having these thoughts. I have personally coached several top producers through the process of hiring staff and growing their team and I have heard these exact words come out of their mouth(s) “they need to work when I work”. Unfortunately, that’s not the way of things.  Put simply, they are not you. 

When it comes to hiring people it is even more critical to treat them as individuals according to their needs.  If you find yourself expecting the same commitment from your staff as you have for yourself, then consider a couple of questions:

  1. Are you going to pay them the same amount of money that you make every year? 
  2. Are you going to give them the same amount of choice and freedom of movement that you enjoy? 

No? You are not going to pay your office staff or admin the same amount of money you expect to make each year? No? You wouldn’t be ok if your assistant took off in the middle of the day without telling you to go skiing? So… if you are not going to pay them what you make or give them the same amount of freedom, how can you expect them to have the same amount of dedication?