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  By Real Estate Trainer
    Randy Roussie

Training Article - How To Defuse Homeowner Anger!

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Real Estate Training Article, Defuse Homeowner Anger  

Training Article - How To Defuse Homeowner Anger!

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Nearly every agent, including myself, has been on the receiving end of anger! And it never feels good. I can recall one client who insisted on listing their home $40,000 over market value. I told them upfront that I would only take their listing if they agreed to lower the price on day 14 of the listing period. They said yes, but in their professional opinion they wouldn't need to because their beautiful home would be sold before then. Well it did not sell and when day 14 came I got an ear full!

Here are a few of the statements they made to me:

1. You can't sell houses.
2. Century 21 is a rip off.
3. You lied to us.
4. We are going to tell all our friends never to list with you.
5. We want out of the listing.
6. It would have sold if you did a few open houses.
7. You never advertised our home once.
8. Your jacket is ugly!
9. And a few swear words, like gd, jc and the f word too!

Oh how wonderful it is to be a Realtor! I simply sat there and took it all in. No smile, no frown, no facial expression at all, at any time. I just let them get it out and off their chest!

Finally they ran out of abusive words and then I said,"Tom and Sue hold on a second!", and I started to laugh!

Then I said: "Let me make sure I understand you. You're saying that I am a gd, no f'ing good Century 21 agent, who wears a gd f'ing ugly gold jacket and who never once discussed this $40,000 over priced issue with you the night we first signed the listing agreement, is that right?"

They looked at me and began to laugh too. When I had left, that listing was priced right and sold 9 days later. A quick $12,500 for me! Thank you!!!!

Through those miserable experiences, I learned one important thing: Joining people in their anger and firing back verbal assaults doesn't solve the problem. In fact, many times it only makes a problem worse.

If we want to effectively deal with problems in non-angry ways that resolve issues and maintain relationships, we need to employ certain key strategies and behaviors. Following is a list of the 10 most effective ones.

1. Listen first

This strategy takes skill, especially when we feel that we are right and the other person is wrong. And even though we may not be speaking while our client is stating their case, our body language is usually screaming, "OK, you idiot. I know I'm right, and you know I'm right. So, I'll listen, but only for you to eventually shut up so I can start talking." Instead, listen to understand. Clear your mind of any distractions, and listen for information you don't have. Assume your client has a legitimate reason for being upset, and then listen for what it is. Nod occasionally to indicate that you are listening.

2. Maintain a neutral face

Experts tell us that despite what we're saying, as much as 55% of our message's meaning comes from visual indicators: posture, gestures, body positioning, etc. We also know that as much as 75% of that 55% comes from our faces. Therefore, when dealing with an irate person, you need to make a conscious effort to relax your face, unclench your jaw and lift your eyebrows. Think open, pleasant, neutral and relaxed.

3. Maintain a level voice

Most of us get extremely reactive (either defensive or offensive) when we hear clients speak in an angry manner. Because as much as 38% of our message's meaning can be found in our vocal qualities, we need to make our voices match the thoughts we want to convey. For example, if you're speaking with an angry client, and you think to yourself, "OK, I'll humor you, but everything you are saying is total garbage," then that message will be communicated loudly in your vocal tone. Instead, use the same tone of voice you would use if you were calm and relaxed.

4. Feed back what you hear

While you are listening, you will encounter many places where you can restate and paraphrase the other person's feelings. You might find yourself saying things like, "It sounds as though this entire experience was extremely frustrating for you." This will let the client know you're listening and that you understand the situation.

5. Change what the person is focused on

When a client is angry and upset, one of the first things you need to do is change his emotional state. You can do this by interrupting his pattern and refocusing his attention. Two common ways to do this are:

5.a. Say the client's name. When you need to speak, start by saying the other person's name. People naturally stop and change what they're focused on, if only for a moment, when they hear their names.

5.b. Say, "Hold on a second." These words, said with extreme calm and relaxation, stop the client for a moment and change what he has been focused on.

6. Make empathetic statements

The best statement you can make at this point is "Let me make sure I understand you. You're saying . . ." and then repeat what you've heard so far. Your client will listen if they know you are going to say something they just said.

7. Number items

When people are angry and upset, they are operating predominantly out of the right (emotional) side of the brain. To get them over to the logical and rational left side of the brain, give them a left-brain function like counting in sequence. For example, you may say to your client, "You're saying that we did not discuss such and such an issue, is that right?" To comprehend what you are saying, your client has to flip over to the left brain to follow the sequence.

8. You don't need to make them right, but don't make them wrong

When your client is at the height of anger, there is absolutely no way you can talk them out of their feelings. Instead, say things like, "I understand your feelings," or "I'm sure if I were in your place, I would feel the same way."

9. Get solution-oriented

If you are not sure how you can help, then ask. If you are in a position to provide help, then list the steps you will take to assist the client. If you are not in a position to provide help, then assist the angry client in locating someone who can resolve the situation. Either way, use the words "I want to help." Let the client know you care about what they are going through and that you are willing to assist in correcting the problem.

10. Eliminate the following statements:

"If you will just calm down..."
"If you will just let me talk..."
"You're being unreasonable."
"Exactly what's your problem?"

The above statements, and others similar in nature, serve to exacerbate a problem and intensify angry feelings.

Despite what happens when confronting an angry client, it's important to remember that if someone's anger seems to be threatening or getting out of control, the most prudent decision you can make is to leave. Appropriate comments would include things like "I can see you are extremely upset. I want to help, but not in this way," or "I am unable to help you when you yell at me. I appreciate how strongly you feel about this, so I will find someone else who is better able to help you."

In life, the reality is that anger is a normal and healthy emotion. Sometimes, however, people allow their anger to cloud their judgment and negatively impact their behaviors. When clients are angry and upset while you are calm, then you are in control of the situation. And when you have the ability to defuse the other person's anger and solve the problem, you emerge as the hero, and your relationships become stronger and healthier. Using sound reasoning and strategies enables you to do just that.

Training Article Summary

Tom and Sue became one of my best referring clients. I think they sent me over $30,000 of income over one year! And the same can happen to you. Just stand your ground when clients become angry. Stay calm, cool and collected. Be Bond, James Bond! Remember, the moment will pass and soon you will find yourself with happy homeowners.

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