Being a business owner can be extremely stressful at times. Okay, it’s stressful most of the time especially during the start-up, massive growth, transition, downsizing, or Monday through Friday. A small business owner is CEO, CFO, COO and DAD at the same time, which equals to lots of WINE (just occasionally).
Lets throw on top of that being in the real estate business where your clients are generally going through something considered second only to death in terms of stress, moving. It’s my job and current life’s work to help people get from one place to another. Handing the keys over to a first time buyer is a great feeling. Handing a check over to a couple who just sold their recently passed dad’s house is heartfelt. This business is amazing. However it has it’s stresses with odd hours, weekends, late night phone calls. When the world is getting off at 5 pm after a normal business day your second half is often just beginning. Being successful in this business is tough and the rewards are great as well.
One of the most difficult aspects of business is working with your clients and other parties emotions. People are going to handle stress a different way. It amazes me that I can have two clients going through similar situations in the same week and handle it completely opposite. One will get angry and frantic and the other will take it in stride and roll with it. I have learned that both clients are right. They have the right to feel what they feel.
I am a “roll with it” person and early in my career I let the angry folks really get to me. Rolling with the punches doesn’t make me weak or less of a negotiator in fact composure makes me better. I have a philosophy that life happens and your part of it instead of things happening against you. When you don’t see obstacles as personal it’s easier to deal with them. The buyer’s bank didn’t deny the loan at the last minute to cause the seller major stress on purpose. Things happen and it’s how we respond that is important. “Don’t give a circumstance power over you” is something I tell myself often when things are going south with a deal.
My job is to be the calm in the midst of a storm. I can’t let their stress and anger affect my decision making and advice. You would be amazed the kind of anger people get in a transaction. I can tell when the agent on the other side is letting their client stress them out. I have counseled crying agents through tough deals.
It took a long time to learn to stay calm and composed. It allows me to be a better negotiator and a better agent with real advice not emotion filled responses that just fuel the fire. I once had a client remark that I was almost to calm. I asked them how their experience would have been if I was upset and frantic when they called. They said, “oh, that makes sense.” Composure is to be remained when with a client. I go to bat for my clients and make sure the other side is aware of what’s going on. At home where I feel comfortable to let stress out I can get frustrated. My wife knows when a client is upset or a deal is going bad. She knows the look in my face when I get the “deals dead” phone call. The “we just lost $8,000 in a few seconds” call. There are very few jobs in the world where you can spend 6 months working on a project and not get paid for it. There are also few jobs where you can meet someone and make $8,000 a few weeks later. I had to learn quickly to find ways to manage such stress at home. Just like my client’s stress isn’t my fault, my family shouldn’t get the blame for my work stress.
I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the tops agents in our city and frankly the state. I asked “how do you handle it all?” His response, “exercise, faith, and stress management. You can’t own their problems.” That was great confirmation for me. I had a problem early on of owning people’s problems. People make choices that get them in situations and then because of the stress of the situation they can find fault with the people they hire to help them. This is true of doctors, lawyers, counselors, almost any business. Trust me I go way above for my clients and offer great solutions to the problems. A major life lesson is to always remember that how people respond to you or a situation is out of your control.
Learning to not own the problem has actually made me better at helping solve the problem. That’s what professionals do. Imagine a quarterback getting stressed out and frantic when the defense just gave up a touchdown with two minutes left and is now behind by 6. We expect a champion to go out focused and composed to lead the charge. That’s what our customers expect from us. If you own their stress you can’t be a pro. You can understand their stress, empathize, but you can not blame yourself for it.
It’s still a struggle daily. Like any muscle in life the staying calm muscle gets stronger with practice. Find a way to learn how to remain calm. My main weapons for handling stress are words. I have a few phrases that keep me calm. I remind myself the situation will often be over in a few days or weeks. I try to work my client through their stress by asking questions that lead them to find an answer to the real cause of stress.
My other weapons are exercise, prayer and chocolate. yes women, it works for men also. Chocolate tends to beat out the exercise which is a whole other stress. Ultimately experience and the ability to gather perspective will be your greatest strengths when dealing with stress. The better you can learn to handle stress the better you will be for your clients. Be a pro.