Getting Personal

J Philip Faranda October 3, 2009

The one thing I have in common with George Costanza is that sometimes I think of the perfect comeback or response about 15 minutes after I could have used it. This happened just recently, when I was asked to take a look at a house on a street where the last sale 2 years ago was my own listing. The owner who called seemed difficult on the phone initially, so I didn’t expect an easy appointment. I have tuned many of those around. 

True to my impression, the homeowner was as difficult in person as she was on the phone- very contrarian, factually challenged, and passive aggressive. She claimed that Obama had already extended the $8000 tax credit for 2010 (!). She thought my price recommendation for the home was too low. There was more, such as a few apples and orange comparisons and other baseless assertions, and it became clear that we weren’t going to do business. After patiently enduring her statements, I thanked her for her time and wished her luck the way I do everyone else, win, lose or draw, and made my way toward the door. 

I was one step away from leaving her home with the door opened, when I heard it. 

“You are’t being honest with me. You aren’t forthright. You are trying to make fast money at my expense.”

I don’t know if it was lack of sleep, pride, or stupidity, but I stopped and again tried to explain, briefly, that if the same house (sold by ME) on the same street sold 2 years ago for $285,000 when the market was healthier and prior to 2 separate economic calamities, there is no way her home could sell for more anytime soon. After enduring more of her, um, reasoning, the light went on, and I utilized my close proximity to the door to remove myself from the premisis. She needed more than anything I could offer. I handed her back the listings I brought and turned. 

In a shrill, saccharin voice, laced with sarcasm, she boomed “Thanks SO MUCH for coming! BYE BYE!!” I didn’t turn back, I didn’t respond. I continued walking down the stairs to the oasis of my car and relief. I spent the minutes at her door defending my honor more than educating the public. I don’t have a problem with rejection. Rejection in sales is like an out in baseball. It is a huge part of the game and nothing to take personally. I do have a problem with being attacked personally. 

Of course, the “personally” part of that phrase was my George Costanza moment in the car on the way back to my office. Anyone that has a broker or agent to their home and doesn’t like the words coming out of their mouth can reject the business proposal. This is, after all, business. But this lady got personal, and impugned my character, simply because she didn’t like my business proposal. That’s silly, and I should have told her so. She crossed a line of civility that few reasonable people approach. 

Lord knows, some agents out there do enough to hurt the industry, and the good ones need to do their part to remedy that. Sometimes, that reputation precedes us, and we have work to do with some members of the public. But honest people will appreciate a professional when they meet one, but unfortunately some people won’t change their mind even if the sky opened up. 

This is business. We ought to never get personal with the public, and if we are attacked personally, that is the time to strike that client from the list of prospects and move on without exposing our beautiful minds to more toxicity. Let the dead bury the dead, and let the neurotic seek help from people with different initials after their name. 

 

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