Have you ever heard someone’s words, but because of their delivery, you digested an entirely different message than the one that was intended? Tone is an undeniable part of how people perceive and interact, and in the field of real estate, it’s particularly important.
Let’s face it — if we’re going to earn the trust of our clients and assist them with such a large investment, we have to relate to them through more than words. Factors such as consistency, positivity and professionalism really matter.
In my own career, I’ve learned a few things over the years about tone and the way I come across in notes, emails, texts, voicemail and social media platforms. There’s no body language or eye contact for this type of communication, but my tips will help you navigate the murky waters so you and your clients can better understand each other.
As for you and your in-laws...well, you’re on your own in that department.
We all understand what being professional means in person — dressing appropriately, being friendly and courteous — but what about for online communication? There are certain things to keep in mind.
- Go easy on the kid stuff. I’m talking about memes, emojis or shortening words and phrases from “seriously” to “srsly” or “to be honest” to “tbh.” These are the hallmarks of Generation Z, and they should be used sparingly when it comes to professional communication, if at all. If you’re texting a client or prospect, take the time to read over the text for typos and errors.
While you should become friendly and comfortable with your clients, t’s best to err on the side of caution when you aren’t certain of someone’s sense of humor or fluency in modern lingo.
- ALWAYS stay away from politics, religion, offensive jokes or anything that might come across the “wrong way” to a prospect or client. You don’t want to lose a listing because of your tasteless remark about Nancy Pelosi, do you?
- Keep timing in mind. Refrain from texting prospects late at night or early in the morning. You don’t know the personal schedules of your prospects, and no one wants to be woken (or worse, have their kids wake up) in the middle of the night.
In today’s world of online communication and social media, consistency is key. What do I mean by consistency? When you don’t see someone in person, it’s easy to go off the radar, so it’s important to use online communication to your advantage. Reach out to prospects and clients regularly, in a friendly way, to check on them. However, don’t “blast” them with messages or “ghost” them (to borrow a term from the kids) — simply let them know they are on your mind.
I like to create a simple “reach out” schedule for this purpose, and stagger out when I’m going to send my contacts a message. Reaching out in a timely, consistent fashion is part of good communication.
Aim for the middle of the road.
A friend of mine has a voicemail message I’m always making fun of. Why? Well, it sounds like he’s on a gameshow winning millions of dollars, and it ends with him crowing “HAVE A STUPENDOUS DAY!”
In other words, it’s a little over the top.
How does your voicemail message sound? Have you listened to it lately? It should not be totally dull and monotone for your callers OR unrealistically chirpy. Aim for a warm, friendly tone of voice, and don’t forget to thank people for calling you. This goes for when you call them and leave a message, too — or anywhere else you have audio, including your website.
And here’s another trick I’ve learned to maintain that “middle of the road” mood in typed correspondence: watch those exclamation points. It’s great to show excitement once in a while, but too many of them distract from the words you’re typing and can take away from your sincerity.
Avoid vague or negative language.
We’re all guilty of being vague sometimes when we’re either in a hurry or don’t have things completely figured out. But trust me, in your online correspondence, the less vague you are, the more prospects and clients will trust you and feel like you are valuing their time. It can be as simple as using the word “office building” rather than “property” — don’t be afraid to get specific. I also suggest using statistics or numbers whenever you can.
Now, for negative language. I bet you’re thinking to yourself, “I would never say anything rude to a client!” Well, that isn’t exactly what I mean. Consider this sentence that uses negative language:
I went to the trouble of emailing a prospect.
What do you notice about that sentence? Because the word “trouble” is in it, it comes across as negative. We could turn it around and make it more positive by saying something like this:
I put effort into emailing a prospect.
See the difference?
Don’t get paranoid though — just check over your correspondence with others and ask yourself whether it is worded in a pleasant way. If you want to read more about word choice and how it affects success, here’s another blog I’ve written on the topic.
Ask for feedback.
When you’re truly stuck on an email or any kind of correspondence, I always recommend asking family, close friends or colleagues for a little advice. Sometimes, we can’t exactly tell how we’re coming across, but someone else can shed light.
If you want to take things a step further, there is such a thing as a professional to help you with your tone and communication, and you might find it worthwhile if you’re striking out or questioning your interpersonal skills. Here is a quick article online that can tell you more about what speech coaches do and how they can help you.