Getting the message across; it’s not in the words


The ability to communicate is essential to any real estate professional.  Good communicators are able to create a clear message and deliver that message successfully. Have you ever thought about what makes a good communicator? We all know someone that is great at capturing attention, but why or how does that happen? Luckily for us as Realtors, there is an extensive amount of social psychological research that will help us identify the things we do, or don’t do, to become better communicators.

A communication message is created by a compilation of a number of facets: words, voice, appearance, touch, distance, etc. As Realtors, our clients, potential clients, and colleagues depend on us to be able to create and send successful messages that maintain the aura of professionalism. In doing so, we are better positioned to win at offer presentations, soothe transaction anxieties, or expand our networks. So what is it that the research says can help us be better at our job?

Today’s topic is going to focus on the most significant aspect of a message, the nonverbal part. Researchers have found that the words we use only equate to approximately 7% of the message we intend to send. The other 93% of a message is everything else; tone, touch, distance, etc. So how do we as Realtors capitalize on this information and shape ourselves into better professionals?

One way is to be sure that you dress like a professional. Have you ever been guilty of wearing your gym sweats to a viewing? Appearance is a significant part of nonverbal communication as research has shown that humans are able to form a first impression of a person within milliseconds. I know that this seems like a no-brainer, but in my years, I have come across colleagues during offer presentations in full denim, stained shirts, baseball hats, and – my favourite – leather chaps…Just imagine the message this sends to clients and colleagues.

Another very important facet of nonverbal communication is body language. Body language has been studied for decades by researchers and there are oodles of books on the topic. For our purpose, we want to understand how we can use body language as a means to bolster a message in order to reinforce our image as professionals. A good communicator will use open gestures, such as not crossing the arms, a smile that shows teeth, and eye contact. Our recognition of bodily signals is very deeply rooted in the ancient section of our brain. Messages filter through this section of our brain and are subconsciously identified and categorized based on our past experiences. So, when approaching that new client, be sure to signal open palms to show you are not a threat, a wide smile to show interest, and raised eyebrows to signal recognition and familiarity.

One important lesson in nonverbal communication I learned early on in my career was about how to distance myself from another person. Studies have shown that the suitable distance for a professional to maintain comfort with a client is approximately four to 12 feet. Not too close that they can smell your morning coffee on your breath, and not too far as to require shouting. As a practical example, consider where you stand when you knock on a door. To maintain comfort, knock on the door, step back and then down a step. This will help you maintain that four to 12 foot comfort distance and will signal that you are not an imposing threat.

In conclusion, the topic of nonverbal communication is wide ranging, but understanding just a small slice of it can help you immensely as a professional.  Try to be aware of the way you say things, your appearance, and how you hold your body when communicating with your clients. After all, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it that makes the largest impact.

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