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Every Agent Has a Story: Sadhana Smiles

Our first story comes from Sadhana Smiles, CEO, Harcourts Victoria who shares the two key lessons she took away and learnt from after a pretty awkward mobile conversation.

  • Always make sure you hang up your mobile at the end of the conversation.
  • You never know what the person you are talking to may be going through so treat everyone with due respect.


Hi, my name is Sadhana Smiles and I’m the CEO of Harcourts Group, Victoria.

I have a very funny story to tell you. It’s probably about 10 years ago and I took a complaint.

So, I took a complaint from someone who had had really bad service from one of our businesses. I did the right thing and I spent 20 minutes of my time. I made all the right noises, I said all the right things.

About 20 minutes later I pick up the landline to ring up one of my colleagues, who was in the office, to say “You will not believe what has just happened to me. I have just spent 20 minutes on the phone talking to this person who has an issue with one of our offices about something that happened.” I went on my own little rant and rave, hang up the landline, and went back to work.

About 20 minutes after that, my managing director rings me. I answer the phone. He goes, “Sadhana, what’ve you been up to?” I said, “Working from home, doing this, that, and the other.” He goes, “Have you spoken to this person?” He takes her name. I said, “Yes, how do you know?” And he’s all, “Because she’s just rung me to complain about your language that you used and how you spoke about her after you had hung up the phone from her.”

Everything in my body just went cold. Your little heart drops to the bottom of your shoe and you kind of go, “Oh no! I didn’t hang up the mobile phone”. This poor lady heard everything that I had to say about her issues to my colleague. I kind of sat there and thought, “Oh wow. That was terrible! What do I do?”

I pick up the phone and I rang her and I said, “Look, I’m so sorry. You’re absolutely right. It was completely unprofessional of me. I’m sorry that you heard me say those things about you. Needless to say, how I felt about that conversation, the problem will still be solved.” She was fine and okay. She was really, really upset with me, and quite rightly so.

20 minutes after that, my phone rang again! It was this woman’s daughter. She rang me up to apologise on behalf of her mother to say, “Look, my mother is very, very ill. She’s actually got a mental situation and I know she had this telephone conversation with you and I know that she would have been very, very difficult to deal with. I do thank you for ringing her up and apologising to her,” etc.

I think the lesson I’ve learned from it—well, many lessons I’ve learned from that–Number 1 is hang up your mobile phone, first thing. Number 2 is, the person on the other side of the phone often has a story and often has a reason why they feel that way. Us on the other side of the phone, we may not always know what that reason is. We may not always know what the issues are with that person, and so to give everyone the due respect of processing their problem, I think is probably the best lesson I learned from that experience. Hopefully you have, too. I’m glad I was able to share it with you!

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