Lessons From My Super Hero

Real Estate Agent with DFW Texas Homes, LLC

Do you ever get calls from prospects and you can't understand what they're saying? Dialect, regional accents, not their native language are all reasons why I may not be able to effectively understand what a prospect is saying. In our business, communication is the number one skill we need. We need to be able to effectively communicate with each other or deals could be lost, misinformation will be shared, and lawsuits could be pending. When we can't understand someone, it leaves us open to answering questions incorrectly.

I remember when my youngest child was three years old. He would ramble on and on. If I wasn't focused on him, I would have no idea what he was saying. One day I was driving along in the van with all the kids when Bryan started talking. On and on he went then he said, "Okay?"

Not having a clue what he said, I naively responded, "Okay Bry."

"Reawwy?" He said. 

"Sure." I dumbly replied.

As I heard him unbuckle his seat belt I thought, Oh no! What did I just agree to? Apparently I had told him that it would be okay for him to climb out the window and hold on to the door handle and fly next to the van since he had his Superdude cape on. Uh...NO!

This lesson with Bry taught me some valuable lessons that I can use with prospective clients.

  1. If at all possible look at them. I know this is difficult on the phone (okay, it's impossible on the phone) but if you're with them walking through a house, try to stop and look at them. Eye contact and body language will help you in the deciphering process. If you have a client is is particularly difficult to understand, you might want to meet with them personally more than you would an average client.
  2. Try to ask questions with direct answers, not the open-ended-get-them-to-talk-to-develop-rapport kinds of questions. Rather than, "What are you looking for in a house?" Ask, "Are you wanting a 3 or 4 bedroom house?" Do you need to be within 30 minutes of your work?" "Will you be prepared to put in an offer in the next two weeks if we find a house that works for you?" See? You'll need to reformat your questions. The reason for this is that when we're talking with someone we can't understand and they are just going on and on, we have no idea what they're saying, and we tend to zone out. But if we can stop them and begin asking questions, it is easier for us to stay focused on the answer. You may still have to guess a bit.
  3. If you are guessing about what they said, simply tell them, "I understood you to say ______." Is that correct? 
  4. It's frustrating for both parties when communication is breaking down. You may lose a prospect if you repeatedly tell them, "I don't understand you." I remember how frustrating it was for me when I had strep throat and could barely speak above a whisper. Every time someone would say, "What?" I wanted to scream at them! Of course I couldn't so I just quit speaking. 
  5. I've found that if I remove all distractions, it helps me to focus on what the prospect is saying. I've been known to take my phone and a pad of paper into a closet just so I could completely focus on the prospect's words. 

I want to feel like a super hero agent, even if there is a communication barrier between us. We want to do the best we can for our clients and sometimes that means we have to take extra steps to focus on them and understand what they are saying. Now, if you can't do that, you are better off finding someone who can. It doesn't help your client if you can't communicate with each other.

Comments (3)

Pat Champion
John Roberts Realty - Eustis, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

Great post you are right we have to be able to communicate with our customer's if we can't we need to refer them to someone who will be able to assist them. Communication is the key to any transaction.

Apr 13, 2012 05:26 AM
Lindsey Hasford
Edina Realty - Elk River, MN
Bringing you home...

I learned at a very early age (due to having a brother seven years younger) that when a boy says something to a mom she should be careful in her answer. More than once we had situations like your super hero son! Now I have two boys of my own and one constantly puts me in that position. He hasn't asked to hang out the car window, but he has asked to ride on the outside of the car to the end of the driveway...... thankfully I was listening that day.

Apr 13, 2012 02:01 PM
Phil Leng
Retired - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng - Retired

Hi Terri,

The sub plot of your post made me chuckle!

Your three year old, outside the car, gripping the door handle as you hurtle down the freeway, his superman cape flowing nicely behind him...


Apr 15, 2012 01:37 AM