Managing Communication Expectations

by | Jun 5, 2020 | Industry Knowledge

It is difficult to think of a single segment of the economy that has not been dramatically improved by technology. I have spent my real estate career, and work in law prior to that, developing a tech stack to help me organize and optimize. For needs large and small, there is a tool to help you accomplish it and improve communication expectations. 

Technology promises many things, chief among them being increased connection and communication. We are able to remain connected across the globe at all times of the day. While it’s wonderful to be able to reach someone at all hours, such an unfettered ability to communicate comes at a cost. Not only does always being constantly available lead to burn out but the quality of our communications are often reduced. The richness of a personal phone call or coffee date is lost in the brevity of a text message. Some experts opine that 93% of communication is non verbal!

As we all adjust to increasingly remote and virtual interactions, it is useful to consider how we maintain our family time and personal space while remaining responsive to our professional responsibilities. I’ve been thinking carefully about what works best for me and wanted to share some rules I’ve recently established for myself.

  • When possible prioritize face to face meetings for initial points of contact. There are truly no replacements for human connection. You establish rapport, build trust, and find points of connection. Given the current situation with the global pandemic Zoom, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime are all acceptable seconds.
  • Observe what I call “Civil Hours” and respect people’s non-working hours. Distinguish between true urgency and things that feel urgent because you want to check it off your list. I like to keep a stack of post-its (I know, so old school) in my nightstand and desk so I can jot down notes for the following day. Use your phone note app, Evernote, or a voice recording tool to remind yourself of future to-dos, just be mindful of others’ private time.
  • When you begin a professional relationship, ask what communication expectations they have and share yours. Establish clear guidelines on when you will be available to respond to communications, both routine and urgent, and then stick to it. No one expects you to respond within two minutes 24 hours a day, but it’s essential that you set expectations at the outset. 
  • Put away your phone. I am notoriously bad at this but I’m trying to improve. Start by tucking your phone away during all face to face meetings. Putting it face down on the table communicates that you are marginally present and a more important communication could derail you at any time. Power it off and put it out of sight. Ruth Reffkin, the mother of Compass CEO, Robert Reffkin came to our office a number of years back. I invited her to Chez Panisse that evening for a glass of wine to get to know her and discuss her successful real estate business in NY. Afterwards, she sent me a thank you note and specifically mentioned how gracious it was when I put my phone away entirely. People notice – honor them and yourself with the gift of being fully present. 

Everyone is busy, but we can improve communication expectations and avoid frustration by adhering to some basic tenets. Take the time to communicate your availability and communication preferences and choose face-to-face interactions when establishing a professional relationship whenever possible. By establishing rapport, understanding the goals of your clients, and defining the terms of your working relationship upfront, the interactions will be more pleasurable for all sides. This is the foundation for delivering positive outcomes for everyone.

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