Setting Boundaries with Clients
Have you ever had a real estate client who was a whiner? In my experience, whiners have two effects on us…and they’re both negative! Either they can be really annoying with their constant whining- stripping us of our joy, or even worse, sucking positive energy from us and distracting us from being productive. As the saying goes- misery loves company so that’s why I would like to share two very important ways to deal (or not to deal) with whiners.
1) Forget trying to please the chronic whiner. A chronic whiner is almost impossible to please. Every time you help them solve a problem that address and stop their whining, they find something new to whine about! So, why waste your valuable time and energy? When they start to see that their whining doesn’t work on you, they will find a new approach. I am certainly not saying to ignore your clients’ concerns or needs. You be the judge of what is a truly legitimate complaint and, if it is legitimate, by all means do your very best to make life happy again.
2) Do not allow yourself to be controlled by the whiner. The whiner likes to be in control by making high demands and complaining about everything. They like to see you jump and squirm which gives the whiner a sense of control over you. Somewhere along the line, they must have come across someone with whom whining worked and they enjoyed being “catered” to. Now they think it will work with you too – don’t let it happen. I know it is hard to do, but with kindness and firmness state your boundaries to them. Take the emotion out and be very business-like, using all your professional finesse while holding true to yourself.
This all reminds me of the biggest whiner client I ever had. This client felt very strongly that he was doing me a big favor by giving me two waterfront listings and, because of that, I should be at his beckon call. Please, do not get me wrong, I was very appreciative for these listings. However, there is a significant cost in dealing with someone that unnecessarily absorbs so much of your time especially on matters that are not a priority towards your mutual end goal.
In the beginning of our relationship, it was not uncommon for the client to start calling me at 7:00 in the morning, then several more times during the day and as late as 9:00 at night. He would also come by my office and make himself at home by using my office equipment if he was in the neighborhood. It didn’t occur to him that he might be stepping over professional boundaries. It wasn’t long, at all, before I had to have a very serious talk to explain to him that he was not my only client and if he was, he might want to consider hiring someone else with more experience. I made it very clear that I would not be taking his calls before 8:30 in the morning and not after 6:00 in the evening. I even gave him the choice to end our relationship right then and there (and I had the paper work with me to do it), if that was not acceptable to him. Once I made the boundaries and expectations between us clear, to my delight, he made a 180 degree turn around. We grew to have a mutually respectful relationship and we are still doing business together to this day.
It is amazing how fast people understand boundaries when you clearly present them and how much they respect you for presenting them. It is also very amazing once the boundaries are set how the whining decreases and/or completely goes away. Establishing and sticking to these boundaries will only help you become more affective at what you do and in turn, being able to be more affective to all of your clients.
Do you have a whiner client that needs you to remind them of your boundaries and standards? Do you have more than one? It might be a good idea to sift through your database, whether you use BluePrint by iGetSales or any other CRM system, to identify who your whiners are. Once identified, then develop the boundaries you need to set and the game plan to share these new and firm boundaries with them. This may seem a bit daunting, but just be respectful, firm and polite. Remind them that these new boundaries will only make your professional relationship with them that much more productive and successful.
Wishing you a most profitable day,
Simple Habits…Lasting Results
-Cynthia Hill is the Founder of BluePrint by iGetSales. Blueprint by iGetSales is an effective CRM specifically designed for real estate agents and managers to build and maintain strong relationships while dramatically increasing sales and agent count.
Quote for the Week:
“No" is a complete sentence.” ― Anne Lamott