When I first got my real estate license, 14 years ago, I tried to be everything to everybody. I wanted my clients to think that I knew the answer to every questions. Even if I didn't, I'd sometime bluster my way through a conversation, providing marginally accurate answers to their queries about a property, a neighborhood, or a condition in a contract or listing. I couldn't stand the thought of them thinking I didn't know what I was doing.
Must have been shades of the old days when I wanted to have the highest grade in every class I took. That curse followed me to college, where the most important thing was a 4.0, not the experience or the fun I could have been having.
Fast forward to three years ago when I met my now husband. He's a custom builder in Santa Fe, and rather than talking all the time, he's frequently silent. He taught me to stand still, to listen, and to sometimes say, "I don't know."
I found that by answering honestly and then offering to either find the answer or help them get to the solution on their own, I was a much more effective Realtor. In negotiations when I've stated my opinion and they still want to engage in a protracted back and forth with me before we ever get to the other parties, I stop. I keep my mouth shut. I let my clients get from their opinion to something closer to what my experties offers. Or I just remind them that while I'm the real estate expert in some ways, they are the experts at what they like best and what's most important to them.
In other words, sometimes you just need to keep your mouth shut. Let your clients talk. Let them find their way to good sense and a great transaction. I'm not saying that you step out. Just step back. Be patient. Most of your clients are smart - they just need to talk their way through what might well be the largest transaction of their lifetime.
Continue to be their guide. Help them in every way possible.
But remember that silence is golden. Trying to be the know it all in the room doesn't prove anything other than that you like to hear yourself rattle.
When you don't know the answer, say "I don't know."
They'll appreciate that you're human and that you're there to help them find their way. And they'll love that you're the very attentive listener on their side.