Coping with the Client or Coworker from Hell

If you’ve been in the real estate biz for any length of time or are new, fresh as a new born baby, chances are you have or will run into one of them—the clients or office mates who make your and everyone else’s day miserable. You wish they would just dry up and go away, maybe take a long walk of a short pier. Perhaps someday they will; karma’s got to come around eventually, right?.

But until then, here are some tips for dealing some of the most common incarnations of The Client or co-worker from Hell – without letting them get the upper hand and fire you first.

The Grump

It was cute at first, but not so much when  the middle-aged woman/man customer sighs, “well, that figures…” every time it doesn’t go just right. Their very low offer isn’t accepted time and time again. You dread asking them anything because you know it will be met with a belabored sigh and the inference that you’re part of the universe’s grand scheme to keep them down and not get the home of their choice.

The best way to deal with The Grump is to kill them with kindness (and then promptly hit the ignore button). Be polite, be upbeat and let every frown and under-the-breath mutter roll right off you.

You will probably never be able to “de-grumpifya” Grump, but you don’t have to let her their attitude ruin your day. (Plus, nothing bothers a Grump more than someone who refuses to sympathize with their woes. Not that you’d be so devious as to use cheerfulness as a weapon, but I’m just sayin…)

You could also try giving them space…

 The Bully

If you think you’ve outgrown playground politics and antics, think again. Grownups still find plenty of ways to intimidate and exert power over others because they feel insecure about themselves. Taking note of every time you run five minutes late. Or cc’ing your manager on an e-mail complaining to you about a personal conflict or something they perceive you did. Bullies want nothing more than to bring other people down to make themselves look better. It doesn’t matter what age or what walk of life or what sex they are. This is a fact.

The one and only way to handle any Real Estate Bully (Client, other agent, co-agent etc…) is to ignore them and take the high road. Don’t respond unless it’s absolutely necessary (as in saving your reputation from that libelous cc).

If you do need to respond, be polite, be respectful and say as little as possible. Bring any potentially work-threatening conflicts to your supervisor’s attention rather than trying to hash them out with the Bully.

Be the grownup—don’t engage, don’t fuel the fire and soon enough the Bully will either get frustrated and cease and desist, move on and  bother someone else or cross the line so far that management takes notice.

The Clinger

You completed the transaction and closed the sale. Then you took your client out for lunch to show your gratitude and give thanks. Or, you invited the new/newer agent out for coffee. Now he/she is calling, texting and emailing you every day wondering “what time are you meeting and where are you going?”, kind of in a “stalkeresque” fashion. They don’t realize that your business requires you to use your time wisely, and to constantly replace old closed clients with new ones. Prospecting and un-interrupted time is of the essence in our business.

You have to be kind with a Clinger. It can be tough helping someone buy or sell a home. You’ve obviously helped this person feel like they belong. Don’t cut them off altogether; instead, try to gradually extricate yourself from being their 24/7 pal.

Claim other obligations you have to fulfill now and then. Help introduce them to other people within your sphere of influence or around the office. Hold a housing warming party and invite the neighbors and their other friends and family. Make it clear that you’re available, but not constantly available. Gently prying yourself from a Clinger’s grip is much more effective than suddenly ignoring them altogether, which can result in an unfortunate “Why do you hate me what did I do how can I make it up to you?!” reaction. And the ultimate – they go in a different direction and don’t use your services in the future. Or you might need the assistance of the office mate in the future.

The Chatty Cathy (or Charles)

Your best defense against a chatty customer is your environment: you’re at work. Just tell them you have work to do and you will call them back at a certain time. You can also try to move the conversation towards email which my allow you more control of the situation.

There are plenty of ways to do this tactfully: “I’m so sorry to have to run, but I am with client’s at the moment.” Or, “I am working on a proposal, can I get back to you later?” Or try, “I hate to cut you off, but I have a deadline.” Preface your exit with a statement that expresses your regret, then get the heck out of there!

Don’t feel bad if you need to interrupt a Chatterbox mid-sentence; some of them don’t leave room to get a word in edgewise.

Which brings up the dilemma of the Ultimate Chatterbox, the sort that doesn’t get the hint even after you’ve gone back to your desk, sat down and started typing while they continue to regale you. In those cases, the other person has basically decreed that politeness has gone out the window. Continue to type away, refuse to lend even an “Mm-hmm,” even pick up the phone and start making a call if you want. When the Chatterbox realizes they’re not getting any kind of reaction, they will get bored and move on.

 The Gossip

The thing to remember with an office or even customer Gossip is however much secret enjoyment you get from hearing the latest dish on your boss or another agent, you are palling up to the office Gossip. Just because you’ve shared some juicy exchanges doesn’t make you immune to becoming one of their hot topics down the road. (Or from being labeled a gossip yourself if people find out you’ve been swapping stories.)

Never share the details of any and all past transactions with anyone. You, my friend, have a fiduciary responsibility to each and every one of your client’s.

Be extremely careful what you say around a Gossip. Practice phrases like, “That’s really none of my business” and “I’m sorry; I’ve got work to do right now.” The further away you keep from a Gossip, the better you are. Nothing good ever comes from talking behind people’s backs.

When all else fails

If a coworker or client is really preventing you from getting your work done, or if they’re acting unethically or harassing you, it’s not tattling to take it to your superiors. know that Some people are just difficult to work with, but when it crosses the line and reaches any of these extents, you have the right to stand up for yourself. Don’t forget that!

Another beauty, with a client is always remember, you can fire them at anytime! Save yourself aggravation, move onto greener pastures and smile along the way. Just think of the stress you will be saving yourself!

Thanks for allowing me to rant…


About Lance Berwald, Coldwell Banker Burnet

I am a real estate aspirant and scholar. Always seeking to learn more about an every changing world and industry. Come and seek the truth about life, real estate and what motivates us each and every day!
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