Don’t Let This Thanksgiving End in a Shouting Match
The great thing about real estate is that it brings people together. How many times during a walkthrough do you hear, “This is a great space for entertaining” or “this kitchen, with its two ovens and six-burner stove, is just perfect for hosting dinner parties”? Well, there’s no better time to make use of that space than Thanksgiving. The only problem is, there’s no mute button when discussions get heated. We all have family members or clients who can’t resist discussing religion or politics, especially as the Wild Turkey 101 disappears, but that’s not such a bad thing. In fact, these challenging chats can be a way to reach a deeper understanding with others.
Georgia has long been a politically diverse state. From the late Herman Cain, the politically active businessman who grew up in Georgia, to Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer turned 39th President of the United States, Georgia is a place where the politics are as varied and interesting as a Martha Stewart Thanksgiving spread. That means it’s likely that there are people within the same family, and future clients for that matter, who possess vastly different views, so here’s what the pros say you need to know about maintaining gentility in these types of situations.
Put Respect In, Get Respect Out
Humans, as much as some would like to deny it, are complex, emotional, intellectual beings. It’s not likely that a well-argued political disposition will change somebody else’s mind, but it could play a small part, especially if the opposing party feels respected and heard. We are, after all, the sum of all our experiences, and if we continually have positive experiences with a person who shares another viewpoint, growth can occur. As we learn dealing with clients, it never hurts to be friendly, respectful, and kind.
Should you be met with snide remarks, don’t rebut with insults. That tactic rarely does any good, even more so if other people are around to hear your put-downs. Instead, take the high road, change the subject, or ask that person for their insights. Sean Davis, a marriage and family therapist in California, admits to possessing a vastly different political view from his sister. When it comes to the rules of engagement, this is what he told The Huffington Post:
“Basically, I try to focus on understanding the life experiences that have led her to her beliefs more than the beliefs themselves, then I share my life experiences that have led me to my beliefs. It’s been much easier for me to have compassion and understanding when focusing on understanding her context rather than arguing her beliefs. The latter gets you nowhere and always damages the relationship.”
He later adds that when you’re responding to a point with which you disagree, make sure you validate what the other person said to help them know that they’ve been heard. In other words, repeat and rephrase what was just communicated, then share your viewpoint by leading with phrases like “As I see it” or “I see it differently”. That’s a good way to communicate with clients as well. You want to make sure they feel heard.
Know That Your Job Isn’t to Change Somebody Else’s Mind
Don’t feel like discussing politics? Don’t hesitate to change the subject, keep things lighthearted, and ignore political shots across the bow. It’s okay to have differing opinions or to admit that you’re unsure how you feel about certain topics. As the famous General George S. Patton’s saying goes, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking”. To agree to disagree, then, is completely acceptable. If things get a little tense, make a friendly reminder that there’s no need to pass legislation at the dinner table, just the gravy. When it comes to client relations, remember that being cordial is key. Divert the conversation away from tense topics with grace and levity. At the end of the day, you don’t need to convince your clients to share your point of view.
“Tell yourself that it’s ok that everyone has their own opinions, even if they’re completely different than your own. Remind yourself that you don’t have to change anyone’s minds, it’s not your job,” Deborah Duley, a psychotherapist and founder of Empowered Connections in Maryland, also told The Huffington Post.
Find Common Grounds in Intentions
While it can seem like we’re vastly different, asking for clarity on others’ intentions might help to remind us that we often want the same things. For instance, most well-meaning people of either party want a strong middle class, good schools for their children, a safe place to live and conduct business, and fairness wherever fairness is due. Just like maintaining a relationship with a client, it’s good to find some common ground, even if it’s just an idea or desired outcome.
Now the other side doesn’t seem so evil, do they?
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