EPMEPM: Best Practice & Legislation

It’s Not What You Say; it’s How You Say It: Heidi Walkinshaw

How many people do you talk to in the course of a day? In real estate the people we meet are from all walks of life, meaning we have to manage a range of personalities and expectations, and all with differing styles of communication. Heidi Walkinshaw outlines a few points to bear in mind when it comes to getting the message across the right way.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that 10 per cent of conflict arises because of a difference of opinion, while 90 per cent is due to the incorrect tone of voice. In fact, when it comes to communication 55 per cent of what we say is through our body language.

When you have a think about your communication style, are you aware of your approach and how someone may perceive you in the first seven seconds? That’s all it takes for a first impression to register.

Do you have a communication approach that is positive and attracts business, or one that may hinder the opportunity to build rapport?

So what are some of the areas that we might like to look at when it comes to our body language?

Eye contact helps to communicate your sincerity and also assists in increasing how directly your message will be received. Looking around, or anywhere but at the person you are communicating with, can be perceived as untrustworthy and show a lack of confidence. It is wise to maximise eye contact as much as possible, keeping your gaze relaxed and steady, ensuring that you don’t cross over into ‘crazy eyes’ territory.

Your body posture goes a long way in communicating how you present yourself and this includes how you stand or sit. It’s an interesting social experiment to watch how open others are to receiving a message by watching their posturing. Arms folded and body turning away is usually a pretty good indication that a message is not being received well, while slumping over can give someone else an advantage. Try an experiment on yourself; when you are talking with someone, slump over and then sit up straight. You will notice a difference in how you feel, even within yourself, when you are sitting up and taking notice.

Are you a hand talker? Some of us fall into the ‘Guilty’ category of hand talking, yours truly included. While we talk with our hands, it is important to remember what those hand gestures may be communicating. Gestures can help by adding to your message, keeping in mind that visual communication goes straight into the long-term memory bank, while words written on a page spend their time in the short-term memory. However, if you are one to gesture, keep those hand movements open and warm, rather than erratic.

How far you space yourself from another person can also impact your communication. I’m sure we have all met someone who is a close talker; you know, the ones who get so close to you that you can see the whites of their eyes and every individual pore on their face. This type of communication can lead to a feeling of intimidation, which may even back you into a corner. Remember the bubble of personal space, especially if you are a close talker; just taking a few steps back can help with building rapport.

Don’t forget to smile! Your face can sometimes give you away if you aren’t careful and a skilled poker player. A stern, serious facial expression will assist in getting a direct message across, while remembering to smile will communicate that friendly message you would like to send.

Remember the old saying, ‘You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar’? It’s an oldie, but a good one to bear in mind. Tonality and the inflections in your voice can express your message more than you might think. A conversational tone can assist with building rapport, while an aggressive tone can very quickly turn a relationship sour. Be cautious when you are communicating, either over the phone or face to face.

Remember that people will perceive your message differently depending on the differing situations they may currently have in their own lives.

Building rapport with others takes time and there is no real quick fix. While some personalities will hit it off straight away, others are a slow burn. Time and patience are the ultimate keys to building long-lasting relationships with clients and customers.

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Heidi Walkinshaw

Heidi Walkinshaw has been immersed in property management for over 14 years, dealing in all aspects from leasing, property management, business development and team management. For more info visit realplus.com.au.