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Communication – Don’t Play Telephone

by Tami Bonnell, CEO, EXIT Realty Corp. International

TelephonearticleGeorge Bernard Shaw famously said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Communication doesn’t occur when I deliver the information to you; it occurs only when you receive the information and understand it. Have you ever played a game called “telephone”? It starts by you whispering a few sentences into the ear of the person next to you, he whispers the message to the person next to him and she to the person next to her and so on. The last person then speaks the phrase aloud. It’s often surprisingly funny how much the last phrase spoken differs from the first. This game is a perfect illustration of how what we may intend to communicate isn’t that which is heard. 

In business, we can mitigate the chances of miscommunication in a few simple ways. First, ask clients and potential clients about their preferred method and frequency of communication and then make a note in your CRM. The same client who rarely checks her email may welcome a phone call or text. Is she someone who needs a lot of detail or can you get straight to the point?

Marketing 101 dictates that your message be consistent and repeated six to nine times before people remember it. Changing your message or branding every time is akin to marketing to a new farm area every day! Focus your efforts, doing a few things well and consistently rather than many things sporadically. For example, you don’t necessarily need a presence on every social media channel to communicate effectively with your sphere and potential clients. Choose a couple of channels and commit to engage on them on a consistent basis.

People are more receptive to your message if they feel connected to you. Building a connection paves the way when you have to ask for a price reduction or when you’re negotiating a contentious issue and it’s also your best opportunity for repeat and referral business. Here are some tips and tools that work for me: 

  • Google your clients and potential clients, friend them on Facebook and connect with them on LinkedIn to gain a perspective on their personal and business lives. Don’t rely on Facebook’s algorithms to deliver their posts to your newsfeed; add them to a list. Pick up the phone to remark on something special. 

  • Create a Google alert for your clients and their companies so you can be aware of any changes. For example, I’m dealing with someone whose company recently issued hundreds of layoffs. Wouldn’t you Communicationarticleagree that piece of information is useful to know?

  • Charlie is an app which searches the internet for information about your client which you may be able to use to expand your business relationship. For example, in preparation for a recent meeting I used Charlie to find out more about the person with whom I was meeting. I discovered that he is self-employed and his business recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. I read how proud he was of its humble beginnings and how much they’ve grown. His personal pride in that accomplishment was evident. This knowledge presented a great opportunity for me to relate.

  • Crystalknows.com is an app that utilizes DISC personality profiling to, according to their website, “generate personality insights for your contacts so you can write better emails, run better meetings, and improve your working relationships.” Understanding whether someone is predisposed to be dominant, inspiring, supportive or cautious can help you to tailor your communication.
  • After a meeting, I often follow up by sending a personalized video email expressing my pleasure in meeting them, making note of something personal about the meeting and commenting on our plans for follow-up.

Before communicating with anyone in person, by phone, over social media, by email or written letter, ask yourself how you want them to feel. The more genuinely sincere and personal your communication, the more likely they will be to remember your message.

About the Contributor

BonnellcircleEXIT Realty Corp. International’s CEO, Tami Bonnell, is an internationally renowned leader in the real estate industry and was instrumental in building three major brands. Among her many achievements, she was recognized by real estate trend-watcher, Stefan Swanepoel, as one of the 200 most powerful and influential people in residential real estate, among the top 20 corporate executives and among the top 10 women leaders.

Ms Bonnell has been a featured speaker at the National Association of REALTORS® convention to the Top 500 Power Brokers, The National Women’s Council of REALTORS®, Inman News Connect Conference and the RISMedia’s Leadership Conference. She was named to the National Association of Women in Real Estate Business’ Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council and she was named a Finalist in the category of Best Executive in a Service Business by the Stevie® Awards for Women in Business, the world’s premier awards for women in the workplace.  

Ms Bonnell is a 30-plus-year veteran of the real estate industry and joined EXIT Realty in 1999. She was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2012.  

She is a wife, mother of three and grandmother of three. In her spare time she is a martial artist, coach, judge and referee.


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