You rush to clients’ homes, help sellers schedule painters, devote time to holding hands when a buyer’s offer isn’t accepted—you are everything to everyone. But brokers and agents don’t have to say yes all the time. In fact, for your health, business, and family, you might want to say this two-letter word more often: “No.”
“Real estate professionals have a heart of service. But by saying ‘yes’ to everyone, they are short-changing their families and loved ones to go spend time with clients,” says real estate coach Bernice Ross, CEO and president of BrokerageUP!, Inc., and RealEstateCoach.com. She has also authored six books and is a professor emeritus of psychology at Pierce College in Los Angeles.
When a practitioner begins freeing themselves up by saying no to things you don’t want to do or shouldn’t have to do, it allows them to start saying yes to all the more important things in life. It frees them to focus on being successful because they’re more in control their time. They can spend more precious hours with loved ones and friends instead of always saying, “Sorry, I have to work late,” or “I can’t make it to your party. I have to work.”
Why Saying ‘No’ Is So Difficult
Jonathan Alpert used to be a “yes man” to every invite or request.
“I felt guilty if I said ‘no,’ and I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings,” says Alpert, psychotherapist, performance coach, and author of “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.” “People just don’t want to lose their friends or be negatively impacted.”
Brokers and agents might find it hard to say no because they feel they are rejecting the person or clients, and they don’t want to be misinterpreted as being aggressive—or disliked. “The fact is, if an individual likes you because you say ‘yes’ all the time, than that’s not really someone you want to be around,” he says.
Saying no can be good for you because you begin to prioritize your own needs. You begin to feel like you aren’t being taken advantage of, and you are minimizing your resentment.
“It’s okay to do things for you,” Alpert adds.
Ross believes saying yes to everything costs agents a lot of money. When you show 50 houses to a couple, and they never choose a home, you have devoted too much time and energy—along with stressing yourself—out without any commission in the end.
Alpert and Ross offer some of their best tips for saying no effectively:
1. Say no without guilt. Put the question back on the person asking the request: “I’m happy to do these various tasks. But I need help from you to prioritize them,” Alpert says.
2. Say no to reducing your commission. The next time this happens simply say, “No. Do you have any other questions?” Ross then advises to just stay quiet and let them speak next.
3. Say no with assertion but courtesy. When someone asks for help, simply change the dynamic with, “I’m sorry, I can’t right now, but I will let you know when and if I can,” Alpert suggests. You can also go the route of telling them you appreciate them asking, but you are stretched too thin to devote any quality time to help them.
4. Say no to a client’s constant calls. Whether they’re lonely or anxious, you need set boundaries with a client that calls you all the time. Ross says to explain to that person you have 5 or 10 minutes to talk at a specific time, and then you’ll have to leave for another appointment. Or give them a specific calling schedule.
5. Saying no is OK. For some people, saying no makes them feel guilty. You have to realize that you aren’t being selfish when you say no to requests, Alpert says. “You are human. You have lots of things going on.”
6. Say no to being the everything to clients. So many brokers and agents end up being counselors, coordinators, even running errands and more for their clients, Ross says. Buyers and sellers may also ask questions that have nothing to do with your profession and could even open up the door to potential litigation if you attempt to answer with wrong information. Simply give them names of some specialists in those areas—such as a contractor or real estate attorney—who can answer them correctly.
7. Say no but take your time. You have the option to give yourself time to think about whether or not you really have the time to fulfill someone’s request. Tell that person, “I’m not able to help right now, but I’ll let you know when I could help,” Alpert says.
To preserve her energy, Ross has chosen to make Saturdays her real estate-free day. “It’s my personal time just to run errands. You have to find that one day away from the stress,” she adds.