When I took on the topic of boundaries, I thought long and hard about the message I wanted to convey, and I found a quote that I felt just leaped off the page for me and wanted to share with you.
“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious, and you can decide how you use them. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” — Anna Taylor
I’ve been coaching and mentoring real estate professionals for over 25 years. I’ve found that most get into the business because they want to help people. They want to be of service.
They want to earn a good living and provide for themselves and their families, and the vehicle they chose was real estate. That’s all good. However, what trip some agents up is the need to sometimes over-commit, over-serve, and “people-please,” especially before formal agreements are in place.
That’s where boundaries (both online and off) become such a vital part of real estate practice. Let’s look at some ways to set healthy boundaries that will help you clearly communicate professionally and allow you to be connective without feeling controlled.
Know the difference between a client and a customer
A client is someone with whom you have a binding agreement, whether as their listing agent or buyer’s agent. A client is someone you have taken the time and energy to sit down and have an initial conversation with (hopefully in your office or at their home).
You have thoroughly explained the process in which you work, set expectations for how often you’ll communicate and what their preferred method of contact is (call, text, email or a combination of the three), and spotlighted the level of service that you are committed to. Once everyone is on the same page and you’ve gotten a signed agreement – let the service begin.
A customer, on the other hand, is someone who has shown an interest in working with you but has not yet pulled the trigger to sign an agreement. They should not get the same level of service as a client because they have not yet given you the same level of commitment.
Sometimes agents want to go out on a limb and give, give, give and provide service and work in the hopes of “gaining” the customer’s commitment. Examples of this might be offering to do open houses for free for FSBOs or a boatload of research for a builder before they even commit to hiring you.
If that sounds familiar, I want you to look at that now from another point of view. If you are telling your clients that if they commit to you that you will do (detail the laundry list of your services), and yet you are doing those same things for someone who does not commit to signing an agreement, are you being entirely truthful with your clients? Integrity matters and your word is important.
Set the tone for your social media profiles
It’s fun to be fun, to spotlight your personality and show the world who you are. As a business professional, however, you are your brand. Even if you have a “personal profile” and a “business page,” you are still presenting yourself in a world where there is very little forgiveness for mistakes and many people with opposing positions.
My suggestion? Keep it professional. Lead with kindness and positivity. The world needs more of that anyway. Remember that old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”
Keep that in mind when you are posting online. When choosing your content, think of ways that you can inspire and educate – not just share listings and sales. Think of the entirety of the brand you want to portray, then manage your content accordingly.
Don’t get into online squabbles
It might feel tempting to weigh in on hot topics and vitriol-fueled conversations. There’s a reason that politics, religion and money are considered taboo for business professionals online and in the workplace. People’s views about them are often deeply-rooted.
Sowing more division in a society already at odds in so many ways does not serve you well as a real estate professional, and social media feed “debates” and disputes rarely end well. I’ve seen clients lost, friendships severed, and even family members walk away from loved ones over contested posts. Stick to being a light, an influencer and a source people can trust.
Be mindful of your “guests.” I love Crystal Washington’s advice to “treat your online profiles like your home.” Just as you wouldn’t allow a guest to come in and wreak havoc on your living room, don’t let someone behave poorly in your social media sandbox.
That includes allowing people to tag you without permission or to speak inappropriately to others in your online conversations. It is up to you to manage how people are treated in your presence — even when that presence is online.
It’s OK to say ‘No’
I love this one. Research boundaries for more than five minutes, and there is a nod to saying no in almost every article. Why? Because we have to be selective in the doors we open, the doors we keep open, and the doors we close in life and business.
If we say yes to everything and everyone, we inevitably do not have the time or energy to healthily do everything we both want to do and need to do.
Once you decide what comfortable and healthy boundaries are for you, your family and your business, it becomes easier to say no to the things and people that fall outside those lines. In the powerful words of one of the world’s most successful businessmen, Warren Buffet, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say “no” to almost everything.”
Prioritize your mindset, well-being, peace and professional persona
It’s more important than ever in a world that often feels chaotic and disruptive. While it’s not always easy to be your own gatekeeper, especially for certain personality types, it is vital in designing a career and life worth smiling about.
Helping agents discover new and empowering ways to realize their potential while discovering more of what brings them joy, courage, and confidence is truly one of the best parts of what we do each day. Now, set those boundaries and be the difference you want to see in your life.
Darryl Davis is a speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of How to Become a Power Agent in Real Estate, as well as the CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars. He currently hosts weekly free webinars to help agents navigate market change and design careers worth smiling about. Learn more at his website or connect with him on Facebook or YouTube.