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The Virtues of Accountable Service

The Virtues of Accountable Service

By Darrin Friedman

Being a REALTOR means dedicating oneself to customer service above all else. Serving our community, our clients, and our fellow practitioners is one of the major responsibilities we accept when we affix a REALTOR pin to our lapel.

Furthermore, the REALTOR Code of Ethics is filled with words of wisdom, compelling us to treat each other, and our clients, with the kind of respect necessary to garner long-lasting and healthy relationships built on trust over many years.

So why is it that there seems to be so much discord among those with whom we work? Truth be told, there are few days that go by in which one doesn't hear of a REALTOR feeling frustrated because of the actions of another agent. And frustration can quickly turn into exasperation, which fuels the fire of that dreaded beast: the deal from hell. You know the kind I mean -- a transaction that leaves you weakened to your core and saddened that you ever decided to go into this business in the first place.

So how do we avoid these messes before they become truly hellish? Are there no strategies that can save a deal headed to transactional purgatory? Actually, there are. We just need to remind ourselves of some simple ways to defuse escalating tensions before they become unbearable.


1. Try honesty -- No one is suggesting that you break anyone's fiduciary responsibility. However, there are always opportunities to share information with the co-operating agent that will help establish trust. Trust means everything. Even if it's just something small, the fact that you shared information will beget goodwill and help smooth over the bumpy spots.


2. Try taking the blame -- Things go wrong. They always do. But the biggest mistake you can make is to play the blame game. Once you start down that road, it poisons any chance of a pleasant interchange. To turn things around and clear the air before it gets any worse, there is one truly powerful word you need to remember: "sorry." A sincere apology is truly magic. Even when you know the situation is not your fault, saying "sorry" can change everything. If the other person knows that they goofed, and yet you step up and take the blame, it will immediately allay their defensiveness and fill them with a sense of relief, which will defuse any anger and change the tone of the interaction in an instant. And if it really was you who erred, saying you're sorry shows that you are accountable and mature. Taking responsibility for mistakes is always the right thing to do, because it smooths ruffled feathers and lays the groundwork for pleasant future encounters. Just ask a preschooler: nothing is better than saying sorry. It can fix almost anything.


3. Try not being the big shot -- Maybe you have been doing this job awhile. Maybe you are really, really good at it, with dozens of transactions per year under your belt. If that is true, then believe me, the other agent knows it, and they are probably pretty intimidated by it. So why not do everything you can to make the other side feel good about themselves, too? The other agent may be nervous, if not downright scared, and all he or she wants to do is to get through this deal without screwing up. What a great chance for you to be the bigger person by offering encouragement instead of disdain! It costs you nothing to be kind, and it will give the other person so much confidence and gratitude that you can't even imagine. Positive feelings go a long, long way toward lasting trust.


4. Remember who you are doing this for -- This deal is about your client's happiness, not your own ego. You are your client's advocate, following a Code of Ethics to serve the consumer to the best of your ability. The second you forget that and start seeing other people as dollar signs, you have failed your client -- and yourself. It's about the customer and always will be. Never let a war with another agent consume you to the point that you lose sight of that.