Life’s Too Short To Work With Jerks

… but too long to label someone as such within 30 seconds of making their acquaintance.

A common theme across the Real Estate net is a gleeful willingness to drop a potential client like they’re hot if deep levels of compatibility with the affronted agent do not reveal themselves within five seconds of introduction. Talk down to me in our initial correspondence? Adios, muchacho! Dare to erect contact limitations or dictate a preferred method of communication? Bon voyage, bubba! Unilaterally impose any restrictions whatsoever upon our future relationship? Sayonara, sucka!

For a line of work that requires a teflon-coated epidermis, we Realtors can be a squishy bunch. In what other field would a business person refrain from taking on bill-paying work because the tone of an email seems mildly strident? A message from a complete stranger who is taking a leap of faith by merely initiating first contact via a spam-inviting contact form, mind you. No wonder so many in our ranks are crying the blues about the current state of the economy, as we appear slow to receive the memo that most no longer have the luxury of turning business away simply because a client lead has an annoying voice, a face reminiscent of the junior high bully, responds to painstakingly crafted emails in terse staccato bursts, or … heaven forbid, is just plain mean.

The horror … the horror …

There are, and there always will be, people I refuse to put in my car – pedophiles, overt racists/sexists/anything ‘ists. I will not tolerate personal abuse. Or Justin Bieber fans. Those rare sociopathic encounters notwithstanding, prematurely casting aside difficult personalities because I’d rather my job be stressless than profitable is not a winning formula for a career I’d like to see advance through another decade.

Business is hard if you are actually doing business. It is only easy if you are broke.

So give me your tired, your wary, your befuddled masses with whom you refuse to work because they have the audacity to treat you like the business you are, and not their best friend. I’ll sell them a house and go home to delouse.

The next five years in this business ain’t for sissies. If you think you can survive them by ignoring the tough customers, be grateful there are always job openings in La La Land.

Please like & share:
  • I’m up for the challenge of difficult personalities – it keeps my game on!

  • There’s “difficult” and then there is difficult. While I generally agree with you, there are just some people that rub me so completely the wrong way that the stress I would endure isn’t worth it. I mean if someone was a stress eater…great they get a paycheck, but if they gain 30 pounds in the process they are probably dead even with the increased cost of food of feeding their stress eating habit.

    I’m not looking for clients to be my bff’s, but I do expect a minimum amount of social decency with my clients.

  • Simple matter of separating the personal affronts from run of the mill business stress. It’s the latter I’m addressing here. We agents place so much emphasis on becoming our clients’ bff’s for the next three months that we often blur the lines to our business detriment. Inspiration for this post came from something I read this evening on the AR dashboard. Agent was put off by initial correspondence that, while strident and demanding, never got the chance to resolve into three dimensional contact. How many people come off completely differently in person versus font? Bad business to dismiss people out of what could be simple miscommunication.

  • My goal is to attract clients that I like and vice versa. Trusting my instincts and preferring good chemistry work for me. I do agree that the line between client and friend can get blurred, so keeping it professional is really important. I have and will refer out potential clients where we aren’t a match, too much risk for misunderstanding in a business that totally relies on clear, crisp communication.

    I didn’t read the original post, so I may be missing the mark, but did want to share my 2 cents.

  • You have a point, but the people I am reading don’t strike me as broke and had legitimate beefs.
    Abusive time vampires and weirdos who won’t meet you at your office easily make the cut in my book. I read one post about a buyer who was outbid and dropped, and that was severe, but I didn’t know the whole context.

    I have a new listing that isn’t just needy, they are MFing me over color brochures next to the yard sign. They are aching to have me take the sign out because I have other clients who aren’t assholes and appreciate my work.

  • Great post Paul.
    I used to work on some of the homes your father sold (20 years ago) and I noticed then that he had a good way with people. Now that I am a fellow agent I can see the value that kind of attitude carries in my work environment.

    Sounds like your dad taught you well.

  • I think that’s everyone’s ultimate goal, Dru, but no one chases off potential business faster than a Realtor, in my opinion. With modes of communication so impersonal these days, I think the hair-trigger often gets pulled before the prospect is given a fair shake. Intentions and personalities are so easily misread. No one should tolerate unwarranted abuse, but too much kumbaya and too little hard-nosed business makes us soft.

  • I’ve dropped clients prematurely, Phil. One over a dispute over the quality of the flyers, as a matter of fact. I stood on principle and cut the client loose. The satisfaction was not quite so high as the future regret of pissing on a $1,000,000 listing over a trivial clash about the business I was contracted to do. The next guy in got an immediate price reduction and sold the property within 30 days. Should have been my sale, but I violated the cardinal rule of taking business personally, and acted rashly.

  • No one does this job like my pop, John, and that’s a fact. If I had half his people skills, I wouldn’t be locked in this cubby with my computer. 😉 Thanks for dropping in to comment.

  • Susan Mangigian

    I with you here Paul. I am in this business to earn a living and customer service requires that sometimes I have to eat a little crow, sometimes I have to smile when I want to scream and sometimes I have to work with people I just don’t like. I draw the line the same places you do, except for Justin, because I don’t have a clue who he is so his fans are okay by me until they prove otherwise.

  • I think the good times have programmed many us of to turn down the difficult business, Susan. Who wouldn’t like to pick and choose their clients with impunity? While the points from previous commenters have merit, it is the knee-jerk castration of a potentially symbiotic relationship that draw my ire as a businessman. Text messages, email, etc are easily misinterpreted, and we allow personal feelings to overcome business sense in sending sales leads packing when virtual and actual realities are not properly reconciled.

  • Okay I found the post that triggered your post and as a woman, I have to agree with the writer of the post. I would make an effort to explain my concerns before ditching them, but if they didn’t budge. No way I’m meeting that client.

  • The dismissal was too hasty in my opinion (I seem to be the only one who believes so), as email is notorious for miscommunication. Not sure the prospect was adequately advised as to WHY the agent’s protocol dictates the initial encounter be at a secure location. Probably thought it was just another salesperson looking to assume control of the relationship and demand a blood oath upon initial contact. Both sides attempting to establish ground rules and pecking order. That particular post was merely a launching point that brought to mind numerous others, however. It’s thematic in RE web writing, and I think it’s gotten well out of hand. The pendulum swings both ways, and it’s currently set to “run for the door if someone raises an eyebrow at you.”

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Paul Slaybaugh is here to sell houses and chew bubble gum. He's all out of bubble gum. More About Me >>>

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