Don’t Let a Difficult Client Disrupt Your Business
In a perfect world, everyone would follow the Golden Rule, mediation would be unnecessary, and kindness would be key. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Working with a challenging client or two is something every real estate agent experiences and it is not something to shy away from. If you’re properly prepared, even the most frustrating clients won’t intimidate you. Updater said it best, stating that “by adapting to a difficult client’s needs, you’re demonstrating your value as an efficient real estate agent. You want to be seen as an ally, not an obstacle.” Below are just a few ways to help you navigate the complications of working with a difficult client without exacerbating the situation.
Confronting a challenging client is best dealt with head-on. You can do this in a variety of ways, through pre-screening, acknowledgment, and education. Before you take on a new client, be on the lookout for typical signs that you may not mesh with this client. Remember, it’s okay to say no to someone you may have future conflicts with throughout the process. It’s also important to acknowledge the client’s process and thoroughly understand their needs from the very beginning. Communication is essential to avoid clashes further down the road. According to Inman, “as a real estate professional, it’s imperative to be proactive rather than reactive.” Educate your prospective clients about the entire home buying process and the ups and downs that go along with it. A realistic point-of-view from the very beginning can change everything.
Difficult clients often simply need a platform to be heard. Perhaps they’re tired of compromises or they didn’t understand what the home buying process was really going to be like. In cases like these, it’s important to let that person get everything they need to say out in the open. As REALTOR® Cynthia Nakaya says, allowing the client to talk until they finish “serves two purposes: One, they get their concerns off their chest and they know I care. Two, I find out if any of their concerns are legitimate. Many times the concerns have no ground, but if it's important to the client, I need to give them a place to express those concerns.”
The one thing that is guaranteed to escalate an issue is becoming angry and adding fuel to the fire. No matter how your client rants and raves, it is never okay for you to follow suit (as much as you may want to). Instead of exploding into a full-blown argument, try to take a pause and understand things from the client’s perspective. Home buying and selling is a difficult process whether it’s your first or fifth time and each client will deal with that in their own way. Be prepared for buyer’s remorse, procrastination, and other common emotional phases throughout the process. Don’t let the usual outbursts and issues faze you.
There are many times when people are arguing about some minute detail and it’s apparent that they’re actually arguing about an undisclosed, underlying issue. For instance, if your client is stuck on how much they hate their prospective home’s kitchen, it might be wise to dig a little deeper and find out if that’s really the main issue. Ask yourself: Why are they having a meltdown at this moment? What was their breaking point? Maybe the home buying process is simply stressing them out or maybe they are dealing with additional stressors. Ask questions and inquire about what’s going on in their life. This will help you get to the root of the problem and show that you’re invested in their experience. Your client will appreciate that you genuinely care about them as a person and value their opinion.
Walk Away at the End of the Day
Be sure to never take work home with you and if certain interactions cause you to become increasingly aggravated, start looking for alternative solutions. One of the most important things to remember is that you cannot control others; you can only control your reaction and how you treat someone. If you truly can’t see eye-to-eye with a challenging client, the best solution for everyone involved might be to cut ties. Let a colleague take over and simply step away from a stressful situation. Sometimes, for your own peace of mind, it’s better to lose business than struggle to connect with a client.