Emotional Fluency: How to Communicate with Clients When Tensions are High
Managing emotions, expectations, and personalities are central to a successful real estate career. After all, this is a business based on relationships and interpersonal communication. Likewise, real estate is built on one of life’s central milestones—homeownership. This means that stress, disappointment, excitement, and competition are inherently involved in the process. As an agent, you take on the real estate world every day, but most of your clients aren’t well-versed in the norms of the industry and are likely riding an emotional roller coaster throughout. Acknowledging this, how do you steer the ship when emotions and tensions are running high?
For starters, it’s not always intuitive. Just like you add tools to your arsenal when it comes to marketing, social media, or lead generation, you also have to add emotional tools to your repertoire. Here are a few ways to diffuse tense situations and keep clients on an even keel—even during the ups and downs of the transactional process.
- Create realistic expectations from the outset and reinforce them as you go.
As a seasoned agent, some aspects of the industry may seem run of the mill to you, but may come as a shock to your clients. That’s why communicating expectations from the beginning can help create reasonable touchpoints in the minds of your clients. In addition to talking through the steps of the transactional process with your clients, consider writing out a checklist or compiling a buyer’s guide that can serve as a resource for them throughout. Think of it like a security blanket, but one that’s built by facts, figures, and anecdotal experience. If you paint a clear picture of what to expect, clients are less likely to be taken by the surprise and react impulsively as a result. What’s more, reinforce next steps, expectations, and possible outcomes as you go. If your client is left to wonder or guess at what’s ahead or what will happen, they will either envision the worst-case scenario and panic, or they’ll misjudge the next step and be disappointed or left anxious as a result. Minimize surprises by communicating regularly, clearly, and with all options on the table.
- When unveiling a problem, come to clients with potential solutions in hand.
Any agent worth his or her salt knows that bumps in the road are likely to occur along the way. You can’t promise a transaction free of stress or unforeseen issues, but you can minimize the ensuing stress by preparing you client in advance for any potential problems, and by addressing any problems clearly and with solutions already in hand. Clients are likely to become agitated if a problem arises and they can’t understand why or what it means. That’s why slowing it down, talking it through, and offering potential avenues for recourse can quell fears and remind clients why they chose you to facilitate the transactional process. This means you’ll have to vigilant, proactive, and on the ball. Of course, it’s much easier to be an agent when everything is going great and flowing naturally. It’s when things take an unexpected or negative turn that true talent is really tested. Accordingly, show your clients that you are confident and in control by remaining adaptable, communicative, and clear in your problem-solving approach.
- Never underestimate the power of listening.
As an agent, you are probably well-versed in putting out fires and sourcing solutions. Sometimes, however, clients are really looking to you as a confidante and a listening ear. You’d be surprised how much nervousness you can resolve by simply offering a listening ear and offering reassurance. Sometimes it’s not about providing a band-aid or a practical solution; oftentimes, it’s all about listening. Clients need to feel like they’re being heard, even if you’ve heard it all before. By listening to their fears, acknowledging their perspective, and reiterating their goals—you display your empathy and understanding, which is often just what a client needs to feel better. In other words, you don’t have to break out the graphs and data each time a client airs his or her insecurity. First, slow down, listen, and interact on a personal level. You may stop an emotional upheaval in its tracks simply by putting your listening cap on.
Not all clients are alike. Some will require a little more hand-holding than others, but it’s your job to put yourself in their perspective, recognize the milestone at hand, and managing the personalities you’re working with. The next time you feel frustrated by a client’s unpredictable emotional energy, keep these insights in mind as you diffuse the situation, steer them to a place of comfort, and fortify your interpersonal skillset in the process.