What I Learned About Leadership From a Snarky Real Estate Agent

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As you may know, I work in real estate here in beautiful Nashville, TN. Yesterday I heard another agent remark with an old adage, “Buyers are liars.”

I cringed.

First of all, to clarify, the spirit behind the phrase is this: It’s not that buyers are actual, miscreant, immoral spewers of deception. It refers to the propensity of people buying a home to be—perhaps unwittingly—unclear on what they want. One day they want this, then you show it to them and they change their minds and they want that. We’ve all been indecisive at some point in our lives, right?

Now, that observation may or may not be valid, but what is deeply cringe-worthy is the regrettable shifting of responsibility. When someone says, “buyers are liars,” what I hear is, “I haven’t been able to successfully guide this person through the process, but it’s definitely not my fault! After all, buyers are liars!”

The spirit of humility, (I think I’ve made it clear how I feel about that), would take this same moment, where the buyers were perhaps being “liars,” and hunger to grow from it. If all buyers are inherent liars, then there is no room for growth, because it’s not my fault. I couldn’t have done any better than I did: it was completely out of my hands.

That is what we call lost opportunity. Instead of figuring out how to communicate better—instead of taking responsibility for the situation—blame is shifted to that pesky home buyer in the interest of preserving pride.

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But if buyers aren’t liars, well, I guess then maybe there is some responsibility on my shoulders to actually get better at what I do. I can take this same experience and ask myself, “What questions could I have asked to obtain more clarity on what they truly want and need? What questions could I have asked them, that would have allowed them to understand more clearly exactly what they hope to find?” The responsibility is squarely on my shoulders, where it ought to be. Under that pressure, I’m sure to grow.

“Buyers are Liars”? Humility takes responsibility. Are they liars? Or are you not asking the right questions? Are you not listening? Buyers aren’t liars. They need guidance and leadership.

That’s where this principle can be applied across the board. If you want to do great things, you’ll be leading people in some form or fashion. Whether you’re leading them through the home buying process, through a school year, through a course on training their dog, you’re leading people.

If you aren’t willing to take responsibility—to face your weaknesses head on, as giant road signs telling you where to grow next—then you aren’t ready to lead.

And so I ask: what limiting beliefs or negative assumptions are you leaning on? In what ways might you be shifting the burden of responsibility off of yourself? Most importantly, where might you be missing out on the opportunity for real, practical, and immediate growth?

4 Comments

  1. Adam says:

    I began my career in fitness blaming my clients’ lack of success on their unwillingness to change. I then blamed their lack of success on my inability to coach. I could’ve done one of two things–quit or become a better coach. I opted for the latter. It may have been easier to continue to place blame on my clients’ shortcomings instead of mine, but it would’ve been a whole lot less rewarding!

  2. Joshua Lemon says:

    First, I love this post. Secondly, I hear “buyers are liars” multiple times a week. I think you took it easy on buyers, and skating around calling them liars, and understandably, since buyers may read your blog. With in home sales, I absolutely think buyers are liars. I see two different kinds. One is the too scared to say no liar, so make an excuse/objection up. The second is the I am smarter than you and read a negotiation book 10 years ago liar.
    Yet, you are absolutely correct that the sales rep did not do their job to the fullest extent and did not take responsibility for missing something. Whether it’s finding and overcoming the true objection, or finding a true solution to their real need.
    Once again you’ve nailed it, just a little more PC than I would state, which I respect.

    • Brian Bandas says:

      Haha! Well, PC wasn’t exactly what I was going for but I see where you’re coming from! No question, there are times when buyers or clients truly are at fault, or at least a little wishy-washy. Even in those instances where my complaint may be valid, I can still take responsibility–not for what they do, but for how I treat them and handle myself.

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