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Today's Article: "The Attitude of a Real Estate Investor"
The typical reference to attitude that you’ll hear is heavily laden with emphasis on how it always needs to be positive. ‘Stay positive!’ or ‘Be positive!’ are the two calling cries of this approach and I can’t say that I disagree with this at all. I just happen to think there’s a little more to it than that. A good attitude has two critical components: what you feel inside and what you convey to the outside world. Today, I’d like to explore three components of a positive attitude friendliness, empathy and confidence.
Note that I’m not highlighting ‘raw exuberance’ or any reference to the classic ‘smile and nod’ approach to pleasing clients, or in some cases, people very close to us. In short, a good attitude is not about exuding energy or being constantly agreeable. There’s just superficiality to that approach that I believe many clients can see right through.
This first component of a good attitude is also perhaps one of the most obvious. Naturally, an investor who comes across as being a bit of a jerk (and unfortunately I’ve met some like this) is not going to be seen as favorably but those that fit this category probably have their reasons. For example, the jerk might say ‘Hey, this is a business and I just treat it and everyone I’m around as if it is a business.’ Sure, treating a business like a business is important but I think a comment like that is just a euphemism for ‘I’m a jerk; deal with it.’ The bottom line is that some people just aren’t nice and probably never will be.
You can look at this and shake your head or you can look at it as a golden opportunity. The jerks of the world are going to bring their bad attitudes to the clients and colleagues they meet and that will only make those of us who are friendly look that much better. Just being professional, cordial, polite, and courteous are elements of the friendly investor’s approach. The integrity comes not from investment expertise in this case, but rather from just being a decent human being and the value of that alone should never be underestimated. You are in a people business and being likable can go a long way towards your ultimate success.
Empathy is simply defined as seeking to understand a situation or the needs of another person. It is sometimes confused with the similar term sympathy and there is a significant difference between the two. Sympathy is to actually feel bad for someone and, in doing so, absorb the emotional impact of someone’s situation. Empathy is no less sensitive but involves less of the emotional side of a situation, making it much more objective which is a good thing for us as real estate investors.
The way that empathy manifests itself is to simply be interested in someone’s situation, ask questions, and legitimately want to understand what is going on. When you can convey this to your clients, it can give you a tremendous amount of respect because you actually are interested in what is going on with the client. Empathy is not just asking questions, though. It is a part of your attitude and will show in both your tonality of how you speak and body language so your empathy must be sincere in order for it to show to a client.
In the world of real estate investing, it is common to work with clients who are in distressed situations. Empathy is an extremely valuable tool to have in your attitude arsenal because clients want to be understood more than they want someone to feel bad for them. Your empathetic attitude keeps a level of business professionalism around your approach but also shows that you care, which can be a very potent and effective combination.
What exactly is confidence? This state of mind is often misconstrued and I think unfairly so. Often times, the confident individual who gets a bad rap is seen as arrogant or, in the case of more laid back demeanors, smug. Is this fair? In many cases, no, but that is how it is and I would like to offer my opinion here on how to convey confidence without overdoing it.
To best illustrate this, let me offer my definitions for arrogance. Smugness, or at least the perception of it, is just quiet arrogance so the same definition will apply to both. Arrogance is a display of confidence that (a) cannot be backed up by real knowledge or experience, (b) is used to demean or patronize another, or (c) both. Arrogance is of course a little more flamboyant and is more noticeable but smugness can be equally detrimental. Many people who themselves are not confident will see any display of confidence, quiet or exuberant, as smugness or arrogance, even if the label is unwarranted. As you develop more confidence in your business, you must work to make it an effective part of your attitude but also be aware that it can be seen the wrong way. Confidence mixed with the right infusion of humility and simple expression of knowledge may well serve you in avoiding being unfairly tagged as arrogant or smug.
The bottom line here is that confidence can be effectively demonstrated through having good knowledge in a particular area without coming across as a know-it-all. In short, when you educate yourself as an investor, that knowledge will show up at some point in the form of confidence. That first meeting you have with a client where you feel sure of yourself and are able to convey that to the client can be a breakthrough confidence builder. When you can consistently convey knowledge-based confidence, the impact on your local reputation will be significant and can mean great things for your business.