As I listened to this long-time property manager describe his losses I was astounded. “These ungrateful owners don’t deserve me. I’ve worked hard for them and their residents and this is what I get?” Although this man was intelligent, his people-skills and mannerisms were brash, condescending and curt. Nobody enjoys the company or doing business with a person who abruptly talks down to the them.
Like many folks, he didn’t seem to realize he was being rude and abrasive. After patiently waiting for him to finish his heartfelt, self-justifying oration, I asked him, “What’s your plan to solve this problem?” Apparently that was what he was hoping I had up my sleeve…some answers and a plan to help him. I thanked him for his confidence and told him I’d get back to him after giving the matter more thought.
After reflecting on the property managers I know or have heard about who are well-liked by both their clients and their tenants, I came up with the following action-steps below.
- Talk to people who know you well, care about you, and are able to be blunt with you. Ask them to tell you the facts about how you affect them and make them feel. Seek the painful truth.
- Have a business conversation, a face-to-face meeting with a client or resident. Ask permission for someone to video you and you only. Tell the other person it’s for your “self-evaluation.”
- After seeing the video and recovering from the many surprises, begin a list of ideas for self- improvement. Watch the video as many times as you can until solutions arise in your mind.
- Be certain you come across to others as authentic and genuine. We all want to have relationships based on trust. Who do you know who is a good example of authenticity? Emulate them sincerely and ask for a little coaching as well.
- Practice being a focused listener. Instead of focusing on how you’ll reply, zero in on understanding what the speaker is saying and then ask relevant questions. As I often say, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
- Choose to respond rather than react. If you’re being confronted with accusations or demands, take a deep breath, let the person know you’ve heard them, and pause. In that awkward but powerful pause ask yourself, “Am I in the right frame of mind to respond courteously.”
- When pausing before responding, consider asking for a “time out.” It’s often appropriate and thoughtful to say, “I want to think about your concerns carefully and get back to you later.”
- Make being reliable a top priority in all your relationships. Clients, residents, family and friends need to be sure they can count on you. Be punctual, don’t keep people waiting and be a person of your word.
The property manager I shared these 8 suggestions with took them to heart. Although he still has a tendency to be condescending and reactive, he’s becoming a more likable person and professional. Instead of losing clients and good residents, he’s attracting more than ever. His personal life is more peaceful and satisfying too. Most of all he’s more “comfortable in his own skin” as he describes it.