Let me preface this by saying I didn’t engage in the post I am referencing, as I felt that to do so I would’ve unloaded not polite words that are highly unprofessional.
Tonight as I am sitting here perusing the real estate professionals groups on Facebook, I see a post that rankles my nerves. A woman agent asks for thoughts and advice on how best to handle a male client who felt it was okay and appropriate to compliment her looks. She said she tried talking to him about his pre-approval, financing, etc, but he wouldn’t discuss business with her. I’m going to proceed from here with a woman’s point of view.
Now, I am not shocked to see many of the agents who are responding, they are supporting this woman and giving her sound support and advice on how best to proceed. What surprises me (and infuriates me to no end) is the number of agents (one man in particular) who are actually condoning this client’s behavior by saying it’s nothing, asking her what the big deal is, as well as one man telling this woman that she should USE HER LOOKS TO HER ADVANTAGE TO GET THE SALE.
Read that last line again.
What the he** did I just read? Have we NOT learned a damn thing about agent safety and how to handle clients who have no respect for personal boundaries and being professional? Have we NOT learned anything about how dangerous this workplace can be for women (and men too)? In who’s right mind is it okay to use your body/looks/relationship status to sell something? I know there are jobs where “sex sells,” but real estate and many other professions are not those jobs, and people should have the common sense to understand right from wrong. One person even asked her what the point of the post was. Seriously?
Yes, the simple answer to this is to draw the line and tell the client that this is strictly a business relationship and that you don’t mix business and personal life. Then promptly move the conversation along to business. If the client refuses to get the hint, fire them! No sale is worth so much that it is okay to compromise your safety, integrity, and your business. That’s the simple, straightforward answer, and many women do it ALL THE TIME. The problem is that too many of these types of men feel it is okay to overstep those boundaries. They think she’s playing hard to get, or that she enjoys the attention, etc. They step up their contact, they harass you via messenger, text, or going so far as to stop by their target’s office.
Some men might love to have their egos stroked like Buddha’s belly, and they find this sort of attention fun and exhilarating. On the other hand most women usually find this kind of behavior intimidating, uncomfortable, and rather terrifying. We are continually made to feel that our worries are unwarranted and unfounded, that we’re blowing things out of proportion. Yet, when we speak out about legitimate issues such as this kind of harassment, we are told we’re overreacting and being too emotional. This disrespectful and dangerous treatment of female agents and brokers, who have legitimate concerns, needs to stop.
Consider this: if your office or place of business doesn’t condone this type of behavior between coworkers, what makes you think it is okay for some random client to treat you or a coworker that same way? If you work with your spouse or family, as many agents and brokers do, would you feel okay if a client talked to your spouse or other family member?
Principal Brokers, have strong, serious talks with your agents and brokerage staff. Make it clear that this kind of behavior is unwanted, unwarranted, and will not be tolerated. Stick up for your fellow brokers and agents! Teach your agents and brokers how to be safe, have them meet potential clients at your office BEFORE going out the property. Get their information, and have a plan in place if an agent/broker feels that they are in a troublesome situation. Don’t belittle, demean, or discredit an agent who is experiencing this. Take a stand! Safety for one, safety for all.