Scott’s Thoughts: Lead with Empathy

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States.

Hands joined in group cheer.One of the greatest frustrations you may face with clients is a situation in which a client will not act in their own best interest.

If you’ve been in real estate long, you know it can happen. Ever had a client who wanted to keep a home on the market for an extra month or two rather than come down a little on price? Even when you’ve shown them the cost of holding out?

It’s a tricky situation to navigate. When faced with a stubborn client, the last thing you should do is assume they don’t “get it.” In reality, it’s not that they don’t understand the problem intellectually, it’s that they object to the right decision on an emotional or irrational basis.

Take a breath. Here’s where you have to maintain the high ground. Resist the urge to simply explain the logical decision louder. Now’s not the time to talk. It’s time to listen. Ask yourself: What emotional state is blocking them from doing what is in their best interest?

It could be that they simply need to be heard. It might be as simple as letting them know that you’ve heard their concerns. Empathize with how they feel. Repeat their emotional objections, and in doing so, they might just hear how irrational their response sounds. Acknowledge how they feel while restating your duty to try and help them objectively.

“I understand,” is one of the most powerful phrases in your arsenal, even when you don’t understand their objections logically.

  • “I understand you had hoped the market would improve.”
  • “I understand you don’t like the way this buyer has responded to you.”
  • “I understand you’re disappointed that the house you want isn’t in the neighborhood you prefer.”

Start from empathy and lead from there.

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