The Most Interesting Person in the Room is Not Me. Setting aside my personal opinion.

It’s better to leave my presentation behind than to leave my curiosity on the shelf.

Real estate agents are interviewed every day. Whether or not I’ll be offered the job of representing this person in a real estate transaction depends on how the other person feels about themselves after meeting me. When I’m at my best and the results are what I desired I leave the appointment knowing I was not the most interesting person in the room, and the client knows from our conversation that my consideration for their well being is authentic. My curiosity was not intrusive, and it was real.

The skill of conversation can be improved by if you choose, and dramatically change the outcome of your interviews. A person with sharp conversation skills is an engaged listener. They have a real curiosity which invites the interviewer to share their expectations and fears. The goal of the skilled conversationalist is learning what matters to the other person. Time spent uncovering the other person’s story dwarfs the time spent on trying to impress the interviewer with their story.

Maybe the conversation isn’t about what I can do for you, but more about what hopes, fears, desires, concerns you have. Maybe my part in the conversation isn’t about telling you about my success and accomplishments and the cool features of my service. Before going to an interview to be hired as your Realtor I should ask myself what I know about your success, your accomplishments, hopes, dreams, fears, concerns. Until we meet it is unlikely that I know much about you or your situation. To be prepared for the meeting, I would be better off leaving my “presentation” behind than leaving my curiosity on the shelf. It’s the authentic interest, and questions which give the interviewer a chance to shine that’s going to make a difference. My presentation may be interesting only to me. Your story is important to you and you’ll be interested in knowing I’m interested and I’m listening.

I believe the skill of conversation and authentic curiosity can be developed by anyone regardless of their years of experience in their field. When up against the most accomplished Realtor with the most decades of results and boat loads of references, the less experienced or accomplished agent can tilt the advantage to themselves by not trying to be the most interesting person in the room. It’s fascinating how relaxing it is to be the one with the most curiosity. When there is no attempt to impress, there is no pressure to impress.

Is there any skill more important than being able to have a conversation without being bored or offending? Ten Ways to A Better Conversation with Celeste Headlee from Ted Talks. If I just master one it’ll be a great use of the rest of the summer.

Being Part of the Solution…Checking Motives

Have you ever caught yourself more than a little to eager for the conflict? If you haven’t, I admire you. It’s said that awareness is the beginning of change and when it comes to conflict resolution, changing from eager for the fight to ready for a resolution change is gonna do me good. My first awareness of my motive being out of bounds was to hear what my head is thinking. On my way to a meeting where conflict was brewing my mind was thinking of what I would say and none of what my mind was offering up as clever was conducive to resolution. It took until after the meeting for me to check my motives and recognize that I arrived at the meeting with too many fight’n words and too few resolution ideas and questions. Right motives to resolve opposed to being right is the higher ground where I want to live. Checking motives is a first thing not a last thing I need to do all the time to be a part of the solution. This is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing as a favorite coach of mine used to tell me back in the mid 1970’s.

Real estate professionals, at our best, are in the business of resolutions. Finding middle ground, asking questions, offering ideas, considering consequences, being a rational sounding board, suggesting avenues of approach, are constructive actions of the right motives. Asking questions is an under valued skill…questions that lead to resolution not conflict that is. On my shelf is a book that tells me the power of questions. Leading With Questions. They can cut through the fog, “What ideas do you have? What would you like me to hear? What would you like to hear from me? What happens if we…?” or they can cut to the bone, “Do you really believe? What are you trying to do? How can you say that? Are you for real?”  

Questions are part of the ingredients for resolution soup, another is statements. Finding the middle ground does not require giving away the farm.  To take the high road to the middle ground in a disagreement you may have to make some firm statements. Again, checking my motives will help me make that statement from a position of care for cooperation instead of threat to conflict. Best example that comes to mind is this one: “You’ll hear from our lawyer!” What’s my motive? Well for one, this is statement to incite fear. Just like, “I’m telling mom” or “Just wait till your father gets home!”. Look, lawyers have a place in solutions in the real estate transaction and while it’s open to debate, lawyers are human too so their motive matters too.  How we bring a higher legal mind into the discussion is important to the outcome. Here’s how a person of right motive raised the lawyer idea in a conversation with me and I felt the difference. “We’re making progress here. The details can be worked out from here with the help of a lawyer. I’ll ask (insert name here) to put some ideas in writing and how about you run them past your attorney? I liked that. It felt more like a cool mist on a potentially hot topic; the other way is lighter fluid on the flame. 

Next time you sense the heat rising, check your motives and resolve to be part of the resolution. You’ll know you have right motives when you’re mind is giving you right questions and smart solutions instead of accusative questions, and harsh statements. Wishing you the best. Change is gonna do us good.