It's a tricky path to navigate. During the election, I had new and old clients all telling me what they thought and because we seem so divided I wasn't about to share my opinion! I already had someone unfriend me on Facebook because I "appeared" to have sided one way or the other! Sheesh! How can we win!?
Everybody has an opinion on politics these days. Our country is certainly divided. Liberals versus conservatives, Democrats versus Republicans. Everybody has an opinion and most of them are willing to share it if asked. But what happens when they volunteer their opinion and you might differ quite greatly on their stance? What if they flat-out ask you whom you voted for?
The thing is, your thoughts and beliefs are exactly that, yours. It's usually not safe or wise to discuss personal beliefs with strangers. But, with the strangers become your client or your friend? When talking with people in a professional manner, getting political is usually cause for disruption on the frustration, and irritation. It can be uncomfortable and awkward to have these types of conversations, and even if you say nothing, it could be construed as an opposing opinion, causing the client even more frustration.
This line between professional and personal can get blurred a lot, especially when you are spending a lot of time with a client or customer. Selling a house or buying a house could take weeks or months, and you can develop a connection and a personal relationship with this person. While you might not want to discuss it, you should have a basic response when these political conversations arise.
Plus, clients and customers are researching us more than ever. They may be stocking our Facebook page or Twitter and from there, they can get a good idea of your thoughts and beliefs. This could affect their chances of doing business with you altogether.
It can be easier to stick to the basics of buying and selling a house but, there's always an expectation to be genuine and transparent as a real estate professional. This is a blurry line between keeping it real and keeping a professional. You can literally tear down a relationship with one comment they may not agree with.
Realtor magazine recently conducted a study on two focus groups. They wanted to learn how the highly charged political climate may be affecting business relationships. "All participants acknowledge seeing a rise in politically infused online behavior from both colleagues and clients in the last year. Some said they've defriended or stopped following some business contacts. Several have a personal policy never to become online friends with the client until the transaction is over." [Source]
But is being friends with these people that differ in your opinion a threat to your business? If you are friends with someone who is friends with someone who is greatly opposed to your personal beliefs or political opinions, that could affect your chances of getting a client.
So what can you do? Obviously, we want to be real with our clients but there should just be some conversations better left unsaid. Because we deal with the public, anything we do online should be as professional as possible. I don't want to work with someone that is so hot-headed and quick to judge that they fly off the handle toward anyone that opposes them. I wouldn't want to do business with them because all I need to do is make one little mistake in a comment or in a conversation and my reputation could be destroyed.
The goal is to find discernment, not only with our clients and our conversations but with our own reputation online. Would I work with me? I wouldn't want to put anything out there that could potentially damage my reputation or my business. Thusly, I wouldn't want to have a conversation that could ruin a friendship or relationship either. Does it mean that we can be our genuine selves? I think that there are just some conversations better left for the proper venue, and if you can be as even keeled as possible in dealing with clients, they will see your true self that's really trying to be an advocate in the real estate business for them, and nothing more.
As a certified Realtor® for the top-rated Columbus Realty Firm - Vision Realty, with 32 years of dedicated real estate experience, I can help buyers, sellers, investors, short sale sellers and more find, sell or invest in the right property, at the right price, at the right time. Contact me anytime for updates and information on the Columbus OH Real Estate market.