A few weeks ago, I posted a blog called "Nine Attributes of an Exceptional Real Estate Agent" in which I listed nine competence-related skills and services I'd want my real estate agent to bring to the table if I were in need of real estate assistance.
None of the nine attributes had anything to do with being nice, friendly, likeable or compassionate; they were all related to taking exceptionally good care of me and my real estate transaction.
Several of the 120+ commenters called me out on that - they felt strongly that I should have included what they called "people skills" and what I call "compassion factors" (e.g. being a good listener) in my list of attributes.
I disagreed. NOT because I think real estate agents should strive to be a$$holes with atrocious bedside manners, but rather because what we do, if we do it right and especially in today's excruciatingly difficult market, requires a fairly high level of competence, expertise and good old fashioned hard WORK to properly serve the clients who have honored us with their business.
Being nice, likeable, friendly and empathetic isn't enough. It's just not. Yes, maybe having great people skills gets you in the door, but if you don't have the knowledge and expertise to get the job done that you were hired to do, all the people skills in the world aren't going to change the fact that 1) your client is going to be disappointed and may very well share that disappointment with anyone who will listen; and 2) if you're paid on a contingent commission basis and can't get the job done, no payday cometh for you.
No one wins... not your client, not you, not your struggling real estate market that could really use some exceptionally competent real estate agents out there getting the job DONE!
What dismays me the most about this discussion is the heavy emphasis in our industry on personality being the key factor in success. Who cares about market knowledge, contract mastery or negotiating skills? As long as you're likeable, you'll be just fine! And we wonder why the failure rate in our industry is so freakin' high?
It takes more than a mega-watt smile, a firm handshake and a sympathetic ear to properly serve your clients. If you don't believe that, then I'll go out on a limb and say that your clients aren't being properly served, and I promise you, they notice. Oh, they may still like you personally, but inside, they're wishing they'd hired that other guy or gal who (as my biggest client ever used to say about me) "...isn't the friendliest person in the world, but she gets the job done."
So, my friends, let's go forth... and be Exceptional ... and Get the Job DONE!
(If you'd like to read more of my thoughts on the matter, read my comment #39 on the blog referenced above).