Leading with Compassion Through a Market Shift

By Tami Bonnell, Co-Chair, EXIT Realty Corp. International

Our industry is going through a shift. We’re seeing that the companies which were led transactionally are struggling, while the compassionate, transformational companies are doing well. 

Study after study reveals that having a sense of belonging and purpose creates the deepest, most lasting fulfillment whereas superficial happiness is temporary. Working in a setting that doesn’t align with your personal values can contribute to work depression.  Maximizing only financial interest isn’t sustainable, but long-term success and the retention of clients and agents definitely stem from a core of operating a business with compassion.  Leading with compassion can contribute to vitality and cognitive function, have pain-relieving effects and result in fewer depressive symptoms.  To me, leading with compassion and creating a people-first culture is a key differentiator between a transformational business and a transactional one.  Instead of focusing on where you can find your next transaction, shift instead to how you can make a positive difference. When you’re a compassionate leader, loyalty from agents and customers increases, your income rises, and you develop raving fans.

The book The Double Bottom Line: How Compassionate Leaders Captivate Hearts and Deliver Results discusses how much more successful compassionate people and companies are. People really want to matter. Agents want to feel like there’s more to life than closing their next transaction and consumers want to be heard.  Someone once said, “Compassion equals empathy plus action” and I’ve taken that to heart.  It’s not enough for me to put myself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their point of view, I also want to help them find a solution. This works even in negotiations, whether between brokers and agents, or between agents and clients in a real estate transaction. When I not only see the points of view of both sides, but also search for ways everyone can win, the likelihood of reaching a successful agreement is greater. 

Being compassionate comes with side benefits for you, too.  If you can improve the lives of others by unleashing their energy, talents and gifts, you yourself are much more fulfilled.  When you feel good about what you’re doing and you believe you’re making a difference, you’re more likely to stick with a cause or purpose. The key is, it can’t be forced or faked.  You won’t get the same boost if you’re going about it with the intention of getting something in return. Doing something selflessly because you know it’s the right thing to do builds strong business.

When reaching out to someone who is experiencing a challenge or crisis, you might ask, “Is there anything I can do?”  This question elicits a yes or no answer, and most people will reply no because they might not have the headspace to come up with another answer or they don’t want to impose.  The question can come across as indifferent because it’s almost cliché.  EXIT Realty’s Founder and Chairman, Steve Morris, often says, “Indifference is the killer of business,” and the world, including our industry can feel cold and indifferent sometimes.  However, if we get a little more specific and ask, “Can I bring over dinner tonight?” or “Can I take your open house this weekend so you can have some time with the kids?” or “What can I do to make your day a little better?” all of a sudden the person feels seen and heard and we’re creating an opportunity for meaningful connection.  

Similarly, when you’re expressing appreciation or praising someone, be specific.  It’s one thing to say, “Good job”, but it’s much more meaningful to say, “I love the way you handled that client and turned the deal around. I’m really impressed. You could teach negotiating.”

Some people say that in business, compassion and empathy are soft skills.  I believe they’re incredibly strong skills that tie human beings together. And we humans need that now more than ever.

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