Don't Make Your Clients Feel Stupid

By
Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

Don't Make Your Clients Feel Stupid

 

I recently read a terrific post by Elizabeth Weintraub, “Never Say I Told You So About Choosing the Wrong Lender.” It’s well worth a read and raises a significant issue – how saying “I told you so” could certainly set the wrong tone with your client. That could apply to other transaction issues (e.g., inspections), too. True in life as well.

 

But Elizabeth’s post reminded me of something I was told at a seminar some time ago:

 

It’s important to not make your clients feel stupid!!

 

Sometimes people make us feel stupidI suspect we have all been made to feel this way at one time or another, by a vendor, a retailer, someone in authority, or perhaps a rude customer service rep.

 

It’s not very pleasant and it’s annoying to be treated as if you are a numbskull.

 

While we might tell our clients that “there’s no such thing as a stupid question,” I think sometimes we unintentionally do or say things that just might make them feel stupid anyhow.

 

It could your tone of voice, a subtle rolling of the eyes, or the look you give them without realizing it when answering a question.

 

Ignoring what they asked, or said, could also imply that question or comment is not worthy of your response.

 

There are certain comments or questions we have all made at one time or another…innocently, of course, that could be construed in a negative way.

 

How about “We already talked about that, don’t you remember?”  

 

This could certainly be viewed as a put-down, especially in the wrong tone of voice. How could they possibly forget that valuable information you shared with them?!

 

“Why do you want to know?” or “Why are you asking?” in the wrong tone of voice could be a problem.

 

Understanding and respecting the client’s viewpoint has value, since the obvious answer from your perspective may not be so obvious. Questioning WHY they want to know might be viewed as a negative if you say it the wrong way. On the other hand there are times when “tell me more about why that’s important to you” or something similar could be useful.

 

Using real estate lingo all the time could also be a turnoff. It might imply you expect them to know, rather than you considering their perspective as a non-real estate professional. Using these terms implies you assume the buyers and sellers know what you are talking about. And if they don’t, well, how might they feel?

 

Not answering their questions could also carry a subtle message that you don’t feel their questions are worthy of a response. If you don’t know the answer, say so and let them know you will follow-up with the right answer.

 

Don’t make them feel stupid. 

 

Even if they ask YOU questions that make you feel stupid.

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Ambassador
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Tammy Lankford  - Oh my, been there several times. I SOOO agree. It's hard to see buyers go through this and then regret it

Evelyn Johnston  - and sometimes it's not WHAT we say but how we say it. The body language and tone of voice can make such a difference

Jeff

May 25, 2015 02:19 PM #38
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
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Richie Alan Naggar author of books on Life-Love-Intimacy-Purpose 

Well I agree that questions are important, and perhaps more so are the answers. But I also believe there are some questions, or perhaps the manner in which they are asked, that can be viewed as a put down or otherwise negatively by the clients. We have to be sensitive about what we are asking and how. Not sure that all questions are fair game

Jeff

May 25, 2015 02:22 PM #39
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Beth Atalay 

And that's an important point to keep in mind. We all like to be right, but pointing out that we were and the client was not is not helpful

Jeff

May 25, 2015 02:23 PM #40
Rainmaker
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James (Jim) Lawson, DBA
DomainRealty.com LLC - Bonita Springs, FL
Broker Associate, RSPS, BPOR, HI & PE

I always attempt to treat everyone with dignity and respect. This requires that the discussion be focused on the issues and developing high quality solutions. If someone is in assault  mode, I try to calm them down so that we can have a meaningful conversation. If this doesn't work I break-away and tell them we will talk some more later. This creates a cooling-off period and usually leads to a more meaningful discussion. Unfortunately, sometimes seething prevails and the situation worsens and it takes longer to get the conversation on track if at all.     

May 25, 2015 03:26 PM #41
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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

More likely a misanthrope agent will try to make another agent look stupid.

Not very smart.

May 26, 2015 06:18 AM #42
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Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

We have to stop talking and learn to listen.

May 26, 2015 07:09 AM #43
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Jane Peters 

An excellent point. So much of what we do is second nature and we may not always think about the fact that's not the case for clients. And some simply aren't forthright about asking questions.

Jeff

May 26, 2015 12:19 PM #44
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
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Kathy Schowe 

That's always good to hear!  I had a terrific weekend. Hope we can catch up sometime soon!

Jeff

May 26, 2015 03:18 PM #45
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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John Novak 

That's a really good way to respond to clients! And it shows you care about their opinion, concerns, or questions.

Jeff

May 26, 2015 03:19 PM #46
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Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Jeff - This is such important advice especially if we remember how important this transaction is to them.

May 26, 2015 04:09 PM #47
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Sham Reddy 

I told you so is definitely a negative response and one to eliminate from the vocabulary

Jeff

May 26, 2015 11:26 PM #48
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents 

Glad to do so - it was a great article with an important point!. I like your phrase - Let's talk about this. It emphasizes the cooperative relationship in a positive way and indicates it will be a dialogue, rather than US telling THEM

Jeff

May 27, 2015 12:20 AM #49
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Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
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People remember how you make them feel! Jeff you are a master of making others feel special.

May 28, 2015 12:45 PM #50
Rainmaker
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Nancy Robinson Ranked #6 in MI
Century 21 Town and Country - Royal Oak, MI
#11 Century21 Realtor in the US, #16 in the World

It is always how you say what  you say.  Giving/sharing  information is functionally our job.   Doing that with a pleasant and straight forward manner or an indignant tone can change the whole dynamic.  If you like your clients and really know what you are talking about you will likely never put a client or customer in a one down position. 

May 28, 2015 09:29 PM #51
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Fred Griffin 

There is no room, or need for, being derogatory or rude with clients

Ed Silva 

That's the right way to handle it.  I think it's pretty common for buyers or sellers to have a lot of questions and to be embarrassed that they should, but don't, know the answers. That's what we are there for

Jeff

May 29, 2015 03:37 AM #52
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
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Joan Whitebook 

That's certainly true.  I hear it all the time. It's clear buyers and sellers are using lots of resources to gather information

Jeff

May 29, 2015 03:43 AM #53
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Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR

So very true Jeff Dowler CRS .  As you say, this is a good rule of thumb in life as well as business.  We should never make anyone feel stupid.  We should help them understand.  I think it's a bad trait to make someone feel stupid.  

May 30, 2015 10:23 AM #54
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Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Sun Lakes Realty - Banning, CA
(909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning

Hi Jeff Dowler CRS 

There is no point in embarrassing your clients or anyone for that matter. Yes like Nancy Robinson  said above, it is the way you say it to them. "Let's try and figure this out and perhaps we can come up with a new solution".

May 30, 2015 03:33 PM #55
Rainmaker
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Karen Winters, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Koenig Rubloff Realty Group - Chicago, IL - Chicago, IL
Chicago, IL

It's never good to make clients or any other parties in the transaction feel stupid. 

May 31, 2015 02:47 PM #56
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Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I instruct my clients in all possible way what to do, when and how. But it does not mean that some of them pay attention. I'm willing repeat, no problem, as many times as it takes. No lack of patience and kindness on my end. 

Nov 16, 2015 05:21 PM #57
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