I’m a real estate writer. If you asked me what’s the one thing you should write to generate leads, I would tell you: I don’t know.
There might be a loud gulp in between that, a little embarrassment, and maybe some internal sweating, but if you looked at the alternative -- if I lied -- which one would be worse?
We’ve all had these experiences. A friend mentions a name, or quotes a book, or slides in a movie joke. They expect you to know, but you don’t. You simply nod your head, mmhmm yup. Everyone else gets it, but you’re left thinking “Did I miss something? Why do I not know this?” And in that moment, you have two choices: Lie or tell the truth. I don’t know.
Not all of us are keen on letting other people, especially our clients, know we’re lacking in some answers. Homebuyers and sellers depend on you to know everything about real estate, right? So, today we’re going to discuss why you shouldn’t be afraid to mutter these three words: I don’t know.
It Provides Credibility
If you’re asked a question, and you respond with “I don’t know,” it lends credibility to everything you have said thus far (and are going to say). When you’re honest about not knowing the answer, it shows truthfulness. It builds trust … as long as you treat the question like a homework assignment. As long as you follow up with an answer later, they never mind. And it’s 1000x better than bullshitting a half answer.
Pro Tip: If you don’t already have it, set up a channel where you can ask for help (inside your real estate team or brokerage). Many teams use Facebook groups to provide support for each other. The goal is to leverage the knowledge and experience of others. By asking for their help, you’re bound to get better and more whole advice than you would find on your own.
Acknowledge What You Don’t Know. See How BoomTown Trains You for Success.
Even Innocent Lies are Dangerous
Everyone commits a little fakery once in awhile. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad either. Several times a week, we feign recognition or pretend to be delighted when we see an acquaintance. These acts are a form of kindness, in most cases.
However, there are instances where you might attempt to avoid embarrassment -- for fear of being ridiculed or thought of as “un-knowledgeable.” You’ll make a small lie or make a fluffy answer without any substance, all to protect your integrity. These actions lead to greater falsehood and could promulgate more fear. In real estate, this could lead homebuyers and sellers into a wrong decision -- one that could cost them their financial savings.
Telling the truth, wholeheartedly, should be your guiding policy, even when you think the lie is a small one.
Pro Tip: Table what you don’t know with what you do. By leading with what’s certain, you’ll establish trust with your listener and provide more context around areas you can confidently answer.
Saying “I Don’t Know” Shows Willingness to Learn
Admitting to not having the answer (or being able to respond right away) allows you to say you’re willing to learn and experiment until you find out. Here’s what Stephen Dubner, author of Freakonomics, had to say:
“Let’s be clear: Simply saying ‘I don’t know’ isn’t a solution. It’s just the first step. You have to figure out what you don’t know -- and then work like a dog to learn.”
By acknowledging something you don’t know, you also want to show that you’re invested in solving the problem. If a client asks a question you don’t have an answer to, simply respond: “I’ll find out.”
Or you could say: “That’s a good question, and I don’t want to give you a half-answer. Let me get back to you today and we can move forward from there.”
Be Afraid No Longer
Next time you find yourself in the situation, avoid nodding your head when you don’t know the answer to a real estate question. Give yourself permission to not know it at all. Simply acknowledge it and let the person know you will find out. This will reinforce your reliability and trustworthiness as a real estate agent.