Breaking up is hard to do... but it doesn't have to be ugly

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

Most relationships, whether they be business or personal, end.  Your favorite inspector misses a Big Problem and gets you embroiled into a lawsuit. Your go-to mortgage guy blows a Big Deal for you and doesn't even apologize. Your business partner has a mid-life crisis and vanishes to the Caribbean without warning. Your romantic partner has a mid-life crisis and vanishes to the Caribbean without warning. Your $1M buyer dumps you for his sister-in-law who just got her license yesterday, after you've shuttled him around town for three months.break up

It happens. Relationships come, relationships go. Hopefully you learned something that you can take to the next one. Blah blah blah.

But when a relationship ends, it doesn't have to be nasty. In fact, a wise person might even strive to end his or her relationships with dignity, even on a positive note. After all, you have an investment in this relationship - your time, your money, your energy, your creativity, sometimes even your heart. Why blow that investment by being snippy, vindictive, confrontational or just plain mean? Ever heard the phrase "Don't Burn Bridges?"

I'm amazed how many people would rather burn bridges than find a way to part ways amicably. When I "break up" with someone I have a business relationship with, I really like to find a way to preserve a mutual respect between us, rather than just pissing on each other.  After all, I have time and money invested in the relationship and I hate to see that time and money gone to waste because someone got their feelings hurt. Our business is based on creating mutually beneficial relationships, and he with the most relationships at the end of the game wins!

If a buyer dumps you, be gracious about it. You never know when your replacement will blow it and leave the buyer wishing he'd stayed with you. If you make it easy for him to come crawling back, he just might. If a seller chooses another agent to sell her home, wish her well and offer your assistance if she ever needs you.  If your biggest client replaces you as his property manager, generously offer to assist him during the transition process.

Why? Well, it's just smart business. Never give anyone ammunition to blast your name!

Now, when romantic relationships end, you'll have to ask someone else for advice. I don't have a flippin' clue!




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Ann Allen Hoover
RE/MAX Advantage South - Hoover, AL
CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL

I not only think it's wise, but for me it's just easier to be nice.  I hate confrontations!  Good luck figuring out that romance thing.

Nov 10, 2008 02:14 AM #8
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

Good advice - I always am curious when an agent makes a ton of noise when they leave a brokerage.  It is so much easier to be polite, be open and honest, and handle it in a professional manner.   Just because it didn't work out doesn't mean that you won't need a favor in the future.  The real estate community - even in urban areas - is too small to burn bridges and damage your reputation.

Nov 10, 2008 02:54 AM #9
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co. - Frisco, TX
Real Estate Agents

I used to be sore - you know that! But I realize that it is business, it is not personal. I continue to be friends and I wont let money come in my way of my friendship. At the back, I have to work on the not feeling so hurt, because I'm only human. Every time it happens to me, I tell myself that it was not meant to be. If it is mine, it will be mine.

Turning around, I'm not sure 100% but who knows if I have been on the other end. With an agent showing but not having representation for a few weeks, then meet me and clicked. Walah! Who knows. It happens and I dont sweat these stuff anymore.

I know whom my provider is.

Nov 10, 2008 03:37 AM #11
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co. - Frisco, TX
Real Estate Agents

By the way, I am humming the Carpenter's Song: Breaking Up is Hard to Do in my head now - thanks to you!!!

Nov 10, 2008 03:38 AM #12
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Loreena - Me, too! I've been singing it all day, but didn't realize it til you pointed it out! Thanks to you, too!

Ryan - I've burned many bridges in my life and then desperately wished I hadn't...

Ann - Great point!!!! Although I can be snotty at time... but then regret it.

Terry - SO True!!

Mary - She'll be back!!!!

Nov 10, 2008 03:51 AM #13
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

It is so true, our business is so small that you never ever burn a bridge it will do nothing but turn around a bite you on the butt!  and I am right there with you on the personal side... Love coach I certainly am not!!

Nov 10, 2008 05:24 AM #14
Glenn S. Phillips
Lake Homes Realty - Birmingham, AL
CEO, Lake Homes Realty /

Self esteem issues can be such an obstacle to folks... the need to be sure you figure out who to blame so it isn't "our fault."  And so many that take everything personal when really isn't.

Great, great post Jennifer... people would be so well served to keep this in mind everytime something does not go well!  Take care, G

Nov 10, 2008 05:38 AM #15
Dianne Deming
RE/MAX Realty Group - Rehoboth Beach, DE

Absolutely right, Jennifer.  I had spent 2 years shepherding folks around our resort town.  I tried following their lead on what they wanted, and the longer they looked, the less interested they seemed to be in buying anything other than a lakefront home at a bargain price.  When the client emailed me asking about a home a block off their target location, I was on vacation and did not shoot back my usual rapid response.  Not long after the initial inquiry into this one home (3 days?), the client fires me via email for a friend of a friend whom they ran into at a party.  I was devastated.  I sent the client an email wishing them all the best in their search with their new agent.  I did not offer explanations/excuses (vacation), nor did I scold them for their lack of loyalty.  I simply wished them well and let them go.  They closed several weeks later on that very home for $875,000.  I still think I did the right thing in my response to them.  And you'd better believe I make sure whenever I am unavailable to clients, even for an afternoon, that I now set up voice messages on all of my phones and auto responders on my email offering contact info for colleagues I have arranged in advance to handle my business while I'm out of contact.  It was an expensive lesson but one well learned!

Nov 10, 2008 06:21 AM #16
Heather Oberhau
Prudential Fox & Roach - Newtown, PA
Bucks County Real Estate, e-PRO

My poor husband gets the brunt of all my emotional reactions to business.  It allows me to vent my snotty comments to HIM, and then react in the business environment appropriately.  It's ok to feel angry/hurt/betrayed, but when you let emotions color your communication in a business transaction, you always lose.  Better to vent to someone else and not implode the relationship.  The promise of some future business is worth more than the satisfaction of venting some comments on the perpetrator.

Nov 10, 2008 09:12 AM #17
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

An Old boss told me what seems to be a hundred years ago to remember all the little people on your way up the ladder because you will work for each one on your way down.

Nov 10, 2008 10:29 AM #18
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

I have absolutely nothing to add of any value that has not already been covered above.  I agree with you 100%, although it is hard, hard, hard to do...because sometimes nothing feels better than letting loose a snarky comment with both barrels. 

I have only one client with whom I burned bridges and it's because she was certifiably nuts.  We stopped speaking, I pulled in another agent to communicate with her during the remainder of the deal and we went to settlement without speaking a word to each other.  I collected a very nice paycheck and to this day, don't think I have it in me to say I would have done it any differently under the circumstances. Did I lose business?  Oh, maybe, but believe me, her neighbors all know she's nuts, too, so I'm not losing any sleep over any potential badmouthing.  LOL 

Sometimes you just have to be bad. (But 99.999% of the time I'm with ya, I really am).

Nov 10, 2008 12:00 PM #19
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

Jennifer,As you say breaking up is hard to do and I have found that with the right wit and patience good things could and will happen. Thank-you for reminding us...

Nov 10, 2008 12:01 PM #20
Kim Peasley-Parker
AgentOwned Realty, Heritage Group, Inc. - Sumter, SC

You are so right about not burning bridges.  I had a former BIC burn the bridge with me.  Guess what, 10 month later and he, his wife and his business partner and his wife needed a place to hang their licenses.  For some reason, I just didn't jump and say yes to him.  Go figure. 

No matter what I do I do my best not to burn those bridges.  They are way to valuable.

Nov 11, 2008 05:39 AM #22
Patricia Beck
RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realty

You never know how that relationship may change in the future so it is definitely wise not to burn bridges.  Relationships constantly change and they can be complicated but are an important component of this business for sure!

Nov 11, 2008 07:39 AM #23
Jessica Bigger
Bigger Communications - Reston, VA
Freelance Real Estate Business Writer

Jennifer - Oh this is perfect timing.  Remember the seller I told you about a while back - who no matter all the fabulous things I did for him - he didn't appreciate any of it.  I'm still going to send him a thank you letter anyway - wishing him the best of luck in life, etc.  I'll probably run the letter by you first of course.

Nov 12, 2008 05:59 PM #24
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Good for you, Jessica. I promise it will feel much better than blasting him. Whenever I get in a pissing match with someone, I always feel skanky! I'd love to see your letter!

Patricia - I agree - and am amazed when people seem to revel in the bridge-burning!

Kim - GREAT story! Oops, was that me being a little... um... pissy?

Paul - Maybe this realization is part of becoming an adult... sigh...

Nov 12, 2008 06:03 PM #25
Jessica Bigger
Bigger Communications - Reston, VA
Freelance Real Estate Business Writer

Jennifer - I posted it up on SWS forum this morning - I vented a little too (forwarning you ahead of time).

Nov 13, 2008 08:05 AM #26
Jason Fleming
Jason Fleming Agency INC - Coon Rapids, MN

I couldnt agree more with everything posted above!  It is always best to take the high road and bite your tongue.  Eventually it should come back to payoff over the long run, so I hope at least from my experience!

Nov 13, 2008 03:40 PM #27
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Good advice. Nice post.

Nov 16, 2008 12:37 AM #28
Andrew Monaghan
Your Phoenix Home Source - Glendale, AZ
CRS, GRI, EPro Associate Broker

Its so much better to be graceful, say your piece and move on.

If someone leaves you and badmouths you or your company, it damages your brand and they should be sued and forced to defend what they have said.

Jan 31, 2009 02:10 AM #29
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