Ditch the Vinegar and Grab the Honey

Home Stager with Room Service Home Staging

Ditch the Vinegar and Grab the Honey


This isn’t a health post unless you might consider it a health post for your business.


We’ve all heard the old saying You can catch more flies with honey… and I honeytotally believe in it. Actually, I’m more likely to begin with honey and if that begins to fail, I reach for the vinegar.


My honey journey began this morning when trying to access a shopping site. (what else is new?!) At any rate, there were login and password issues and at one point everything I had in my cart vanished.


This shopping adventure required two separate phone calls. But through it all both customer service representatives were more than helpful, and more than kind.  In fact, they were more than just polite. They were (and this is not to disparage anyone in the north) dripping with southern charm. Now that I think about it, at one point I accessed the OnLine Chat and that person typed in a friendly tone.


This whole shopping trip could have turned into a Forget it….I’ll go elsewhere situation but for the representatives. They helped and offered to take my order over the phone.


This is often what can make or break your business. When an issue comes up, whether it’s your fault, their fault, someone else’s fault, make that person feel like you are their #1 priority.


What else can you do?


Place a mirror on the representative’s desk!

Years ago I did this with my consultants at the placement agent I managed. When they looked and saw a frown, a smirk, or anything other than a smile on their faces, they knew to change that quickly!

Believe it or not, it made a difference.


Make sure your frontline person (and that’s you if you’re a one-person show) is totally invested in the company.

Help them understand everything that goes on in the company and where and how to find answers. It’s a lot more reassuring than having them come across as nothing more than a note taker that will pass your concern on to someone else.


Beginning with honey is a lot easier than starting with vinegar and the results are a lot sweeter.



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Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

When I need to call a company to resolve a problem, I remind myself that the person answering the phone is NOT the person who caused the problem. Then I try hard to put that smile on my face and in my voice before I dial. It does help.

Apr 30, 2019 06:38 PM #25
Chris Lima
Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise - Port St Lucie, FL
Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you.

Great post@ladystager16. It's a choice to choose honey over vinegar. The mirror tip is spot on.

Apr 30, 2019 06:41 PM #26
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Kathy.

So true, haven't tried the mirror thing, but now I will.  Great advice as usual, thanks

May 01, 2019 03:14 AM #27
Amanda S. Davidson
Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group Brokered By eXp Realty - Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale

Kathy, I firmly believe the person at the front is the most important person in a company. They can make or break so many situations. Hearing about exceptional customer service is refreshing, I'm glad they got your cart situation worked out. Love your title!

May 01, 2019 05:53 AM #28
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

One thing that we will all answer for is "user friendly" products & services. Failure to heed that dynamic makes you second best or worse in business

May 01, 2019 06:43 AM #29
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Most people today have very little patience. So, if you start off as "vinegar" you can expect to not make much progress.

I always heard the term "gatekeeper" as referring to the front-line person.

Thanks for a great reminder.

May 01, 2019 07:27 AM #30
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Kathy,  I will try the mirror and hope I do not make it but it works in my tone of voice that I come thru on the phone with.


May 01, 2019 07:49 AM #31
Marvel "Kay" Peterson
HomeSmart Professionals - Palm Desert, CA
Marvelous Desert Homes

Hi Kathy,  I love your blog, I worked in the convention industry for years, it's like the theatre biz, the show must open and everyone can get very cranky right before the cutain goes up or the show opens.  Our front line people would get that grumpy guy with an attitude who waited to the last minute to order his equipment and then scream at our desk people. It never failed he would blame someone else that's where it started going down hill, even the best customer service people can get rattled and return the grumpy attitude if they don't have great training.  You get what you give in this world, a sweet voice and a kind thank you for understanding is honey and it works.  I would say as a real estate agent, we run into this more than I would like, last minute Sally not doing her job and then it becomes your problem.  I have a saying I used on my kids and now grandkids...if you find someone without a smile, give them one of yours, works wonders.  :) 

May 01, 2019 08:13 AM #32
Bruce Hicks
Best Homes Hawaii - Honolulu, HI
Your Lifetime Friend/Helper!

So very true Kathy Streib ! My mirror is at the side wall, so I turn and face the mirror, smile and then talk on the phone.

May 01, 2019 09:48 AM #33
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Sun Lakes Realty - Banning, CA
(909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning

Absolutely agree with your article and a good reminder for all of us. Thank you Kathy Streib .

May 01, 2019 10:24 AM #34
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

I had some vinegar thrown in my face (figuratively, of course) by a former client last week.  Hence the reason they are a former client.  They refused to de-escalate the mountiain they had made of an imagined mole hill.

May 01, 2019 11:25 AM #35
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I often think of this phrase when working with an agent and there are issues...with communication, follow up, etc.  I don't get upset, just try to keep the process moving forward knowing it's going to be more trouble and work on my end!

May 01, 2019 12:53 PM #36
Karen Rice Madison AL Realtor
Keller Williams Realty Madison - Madison, AL
434-282-7936 Call/Text

It's so true that a person's attitude towards a problem can make or break a deal.  A different response from the representatives you spoke with might have ruined your opinion of their company.  Well done those representatives for saving the day with southern charm!  

May 01, 2019 01:40 PM #37
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Totally agree with your sweeter than honey sales concept! 

But apple cider vinegar can cure lots of ailments!!!

May 02, 2019 01:33 AM #38
Sham Reddy CRS
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

So true, thanks for sharing!

Mirrors don't lie.

When they looked and saw a frown, a smirk, or anything other than a smile on their faces, they knew to change that quickly! Believe it or not, it made a difference.

May 02, 2019 04:15 AM #39
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!) - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Yes, this is a great thing to keep in mind. And I love the mirror suggestion! I bet that was quite effective.

May 02, 2019 04:17 AM #40
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Kathy... I have no idea if I'm allergic to bee stings, as I've never been stung. But honey is a big no-no for me.

May 02, 2019 05:46 AM #41
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Kathy Streib - Congrats on the feature.  Those on the receiving end of the "vinegar" see and feel that all day long. It makes a big difference when you can sprinkle a little sugar or honey on the issue. 

May 02, 2019 07:40 AM #42
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

So true. I've heard the mirror trick before and it really does work!

Congrats on the well deserved feature!

May 06, 2019 07:40 AM #43
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Great point. We need to remember that when we are incovenienced on a Sunday that the caller needs to be treated the same way!

May 13, 2019 05:38 PM #44
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Kathy Streib

Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224
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