connect with us:
Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on LinkedIn
Follow us on Google+


Jun 7, 2014

Posted by

Carla Cross

About Carla Cross, CRB, MA International speaker, trainer, and coach specializing in career development, business planning, brokerage management, leadership, and instructor development. What sets Read more

Have you ever gotten poison oak? In Oregon's Willamette Valley, where I grew up, poison ivy seemed to be waiting in the woods ready to attack me each time I ventured out of my yard. Getting poison ivy meant itchy skin, at the least, and, at its worst, it meant a face swollen to the point where my eyes were just slits. That will get you down. In fact, I'd look in the mirror and wonder if I'd ever look like me again.

During one particularly horrible bout with my enemy, poison oak, (you can tell I really hated this stuff), I remember riding in the car with my mother to pick up my sister at school. I forgot I had this grotesquely swollen face for a moment, and I waved at a friend. I got a stare back. Turning to my mom, I asked, "Will I ever get over this?" Of course, as good moms do, she replied, "Of course, dear. It's just temporary. You'll look like your cheery little self real soon again." And, of course, after a couple of weeks, I did resemble me. ,

What Gets Us Brokers Down

We brokers have many varieties of poison oak waiting to attack us as we venture into the 'woods of management' each day. An agent leaves us, a call from an unhappy seller, a letter from a new homeowner, saying, "What is your company going to do about our pest infestation problem?" I'll bet you can think of 25 others! Sometimes you wish your mom could just sit with you in your office each day and say, over and over, "It's okay, honey. They don't dislike you, they just have a problem." Sounds farfetched, but, the real question is, "Who gets you up when you're down?"

An Industry-Wide Problem

It's not just us brokers who seem to be fighting more 'poison oak' every day. It's all of us in the industry. As agents capture more of the commission dollars, they're more 'on their own'. They're fighting more of their own battles, with less management help. There's less 'broker supervision'. Now, to independent people like you and me, that sounds great. We don't need someone standing over our shoulder telling us what to do.

But, there's a downside to no supervision. When we do something right, there's no one to congratulate us! And, since most of us in this industry thrive on recognition, we've given up a chance to get it from an 'authority'. On the other hand, when things go wrong, with less interest and guidance in how we're doing, we've given up the chance to let someone who cares about us 'pump us up' when we're down.


Where does a manager get 'strokes'?  Recently, I was teaching a managers' workshop. I asked the managers where they got positive 'strokes'--you know, the stuff that keeps us going when we're wading deep in that poison oak. Several managers said, "We don't get them. But, again, we don't need them." Yeah, right. Sure. Every psychological study I've ever read proves the human's need to feel needed, to be recognized and treasured as an individual. That's positive strokes, folks. I think what those managers were saying is that, they had given up on getting strokes from the outside. There are two places to go to get 'pumped up':

1. Outside, from associates, friends, and family, and inside, in your own head. Having observed thousands of real estate professionals in action over the last two decades, I'd say it's much harder to give ourselves strokes than to accept them from the outside. It's harder to pump ourselves up than to listen someone else pump us up. 

2. Inside. Let's look at the 'outside' first.

Going Outside to get Pumped Up

So, if it's a need for all of us, where can a manager go on the outside to get pumped up when he's down? Some owners are great at it. However, the owner only knows what his manager is doing if he sets short-term goals with the manager, and helps the manager work toward those goals. In other words, the best kind of supervision. How about trainers and recruiters? How about agents in the office?

If recognition drives most of us to do better, then, why don't we all work harder at recognizing each others' efforts--and helping each other out of the tough spots? Why do it? It pays off in greater productivity. According to psychologist Maxwell Maltz, who wrote Psycho Cybernetics, we take risks and are motivated to try something new only when we have an increase in self-esteem.

Going inside. Someone you can always count on. When I was in college, I remember going sailing with a group of people. It was a gorgeous day. We sailed around the large lake, enjoying moderate winds. Then, about 6 o'clock, we decided to sail back to the dock. Problem. No wind. We had no choice but to wait for that wind to bring us back. (or use the little outboard motor.) Frequently, we count on others to 'sail us back to the dock of positive attitude' when we're down. Like the wind, though, they may not be there when we need them! Actually, though, we have our own outboard motor onboard--our own minds.

We have the ability to change our minds about things (especially we women, men say...). We have the ability inside us to re-draw a conclusion about an event. For instance, we managers get 'down' when the agent we thought we were going to hire went to another agency. We can look at it as a loss, or as an opportunity to learn from the experience. If we're good at managing our attitude, we'll call that agent to find out what attracted that agent to the other company--and learn from the experience.

Managing Our Attitude Takes Practice

Psychologists tell us that, when something negative happens, we play that scene over in our mind about twenty times. That'll give you a negative attitude! Practice makes perfect....So, to combat our mind's trained tendency to re-play the negative, we must balance it with the positive.

Try this: The next time you're down, play the experience in your mind as a movie. Then, shrink the movie over to the corner of your mind. Now, play the movie with you as hero. Create a terrific outcome. Add music, dialogue, motion, emotion. Make it a real blockbuster. Now, play it twenty times. Ridiculous, you say? Right. But, you might look at it this way. Not as ridiculous as limiting your life possibilities by playing negative things in your mind over and over......

Singer/Songwriter Rick Nelson said it Best

Remember Rick's great tune, Garden Party? One line says it all. "If you can't please everyone, then you've got to please yourself." Getting yourself up when you're down is as easy as deciding how you want to feel each day. Practice the positive mind movie until it's second nature. After while, you'll be walking around with a smile on your face all the time. People will wonder what happened. Only you will know! Instead of counting on the wind to inflate your sails, you'll have your mind.

 We managers have a huge responsibility. It's not really to make a profit in an office; it's to create an atmosphere where our associates can fully develop their life's potential. We have the ability to inspire others to attain great things. It starts with managing our own attitude. Then, we can teach others this skill. Profits will follow.