Ever walked into a private moment during a showing? Been tormented by a seller’s serpent? You’re not alone.
Confessions of an Estate Agent, by Rosalind Russell, is a collection of funny, embarrassing and entirely true stories from real estate professionals across the pond. Originally published in a week-day column in The London Evening Standard, Russell used her eight years of experience publishing the column to curate a hilarious, yet touching volume, illustrated with cartoons by Merrily Harpur.
Because each entry is just a paragraph, this is the perfect little book to throw in a bag for when you’re waiting in line at the post office. It would also serve as a great pick-me-up at the end of a difficult or strange day out in the field. Just knowing that you’re not the only one who’s been put out by a seller’s crazy requests or had their new suit ruined by a flying can of house paint can help ease the blow. And thanks to the subject-specific chapters, you can choose your salve to match the offense.
Of course there are some cultural differences; even the mere title of the book hints that they handle the particulars of a real estate transaction a bit differently in Great Britain. But the same frustrations regarding bureaucracy, unrealistic clients, and showing surprises are common over here too. And sometimes the differences are enlightening, or even encouraging.
Overall, one gets the impression of a dedicated workforce willing to go above and beyond the norm to make buying, selling, renting, and just plain living as easy as possible for their clients. Even when those clients happen to be totally crazy.
Though I loved reading it for the laughs, it also made me a bit nostalgic for our old column, In the Trenches (for those who aren’t acquainted, here’s an example). What do you think: Is this the sort of feature you’d like to read more of? Or do you hear enough of these stories around the office? Let me know in the comment section below.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst, (McGraw-Hill Publishing, 2002; $12.95) Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner teach you how to identify common problem personalities, and use your knowledge to gain control of stressful situations. The book also provides strategies to improve your negotiation skills and foster better communication with others.
The book opens with a “10 Most Unwanted List,” short character sketches of the most common obnoxious personalities. Later chapters provide additional detail on each type and along with action plans on how to deal with them. The rogue’s gallery of personality defects include:
- The Tank. Confrontational and angry, tanks bulldoze over anybody who gets in their way. Holding your ground is essential to dealing with them.
- The Sniper. Snide, sarcastic, and flat-out mean, snipers attempt to make you feel foolish. Dealing directly and assertively with them puts you on common ground.
- The Grenade. Prone to remaining silent about perceived abuses until they’re ready to explode, grenades are walking billboards for the dangers of repression. Establish clear lines of communication before they blow up.
- The Know-it-all. Possessing a low tolerance for correction and contradiction, know-it-alls are nevertheless quick to blame others. Preparation and a willingness to give them their due will smooth interactions with these people.
- The Think-They-Know-It-All. Desperate for attention, think-they-know-it-alls use their charm to grab the limelight and hold onto it, whether or not they actually know what they’re talking about. Give them a little attention, but know when to rein them in.
- The Yes Person. Eager to please, yes people agree without thinking things through, overcommitting themselves rather than disappointing someone. Help them learn to plan, and encourage honest communication at every turn.
- The Maybe Person. The kings and queens of wishy-washy behavior, maybe people equivocate and procrastinate until the decision is taken out of their hands. Be patient, and develop their objective decision-making skills.
- The Nothing Person. A real nowhere man, the nothing person provides no feedback. Ask open-ended questions to draw them from their shells.
- The No Person. Eternal pessimists, no people reject ideas out of hand. Try to redirect their negative energy towards problem solving–ask why the idea won’t work and what can be done to fix the problem.
- The Whiner. Life is a tragedy to whiners, who feel overwhelmed by the unfair world around them and feel compelled to share their misery with everyone else. Listen for their main points, then, once again, redirect their energy toward problem solving.
Each of these personality types is really an exaggeration of a desirable trait. For example, wanting to do the job right makes a worker valuable. But becoming so obsessed with perfection that you turn into a no person and reject everything as less than perfect leads to problems.
Once you’ve identified the problem personality types you regularly encounter, the book offers four options–stay and do nothing, walk away, change your attitudes about the person, or change your behavior. Dealing with People You Can’t Stand concentrates on the later two, showing you how to understand where difficult people are coming from and how to deal with them effectively.
Each of the ten problem personalities is discussed in detail in an individual chapter. For instance, instead of getting frustrated when “maybe” people equivocate, the book advises clarifying the vaguely defined obstacles that are keeping them from making decisions. Putting the pluses and minuses of each option down on paper can help these undecideds feel more comfortable. Work to establish personal rapport and create a comfort zone where maybes can evaluate their decision effectively. And avoid showing anger at all costs; it will just make the maybes vacillate more.
The book also shows you how to avoid communications gaps when you’re not dealing with someone face to face. These communication strategies are especially important for real estate professionals, since most depend extensively on phones and e-mails to stay in touch with buyers and sellers. Some of the book’s advice is just common sense. For instance, it includes such chestnuts as placing a mirror on your desk to remind you to smile when talking on the phone. But the book also offers practical advice, such waiting and rereading a troubling e-mail message or even getting a second opinion on what a writer means before firing off an angry reply. The authors point out that many e-mail flame wars ignite because one person misreads another’s intent.
Many real estate professionals get into the business because they love people. But some people are less lovable with others. Dealing with People You Can’t Stand shows you how to cope with the less pleasant individuals you run into on a daily basis without raising your blood pressure. They might not be able to stop being jerks, but you can learn to stop being bothered by them.