Determining When To Engage With Politics And Clients

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There are a lot of exciting things and some awfully dreadful ones happening at the same time. On the one hand, we have humanity focused on our collective health due to the pandemic. On the other hand, a major infrastructure bill seeks to repair, remake and reimagine the future of this country and surely have a lasting impact on social and environmental governance. 

The economy feels suspect to many — including real estate professionals — due to variant mutation of the pandemic virus. Shortages continue and may increase port shutdowns in China and backlogs worldwide. Schools are working to get back to a routine and businesses are dealing with the resonance of potential vaccine mandates, with opposition rising to meet these discussions.

So, who’s fault is all this? Well, what do you think? How do you feel about (fill in the blank)? These are questions to be considered carefully under the best of circumstances, but if your client asks you any one of a myriad of hot button issues, do you engage with them? 

There is one school of thought that encourages never talking about politics or religion in business but this isn’t as easier said than done. 

Right now sales professionals in real estate and across industries need to pay attention to the goal of interaction and attempt to steer clear of controversy. Who is to say what is controversial? I know we all attempt to use our God-given common sense in these matters but it can get dicey. I have had the occasion or two to get involved in politics/religion discussions that went poorly. I interjected what I felt was a practical observation of a current event and got into a fiercely opinionated discussion with a client who had a wholly opposite viewpoint and went on to advise me fully on his opinion. 

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To say the least, the client was going to convert me to their way of thinking and proceeded to do so. The true wrong in the scenario is that the focus moved away from the client-centric relationship and onto a debate over beliefs. 

Another school of thought asserts that that people buy from people with whom they find commonality. With that in mind, it’s helpful to put up a few guideposts. 

Is this topic of discussion necessary for the transaction? 

As a sales professional, you cannot control what your client says (unless you are a lawyer) or what questions they may ask you. What you can do is ask yourself if a hot button topic is worth the distraction and self-censor for the good of the business.

You may think that the client believes as you do in all matters of discussion. Perhaps they do, if you’ve known them long enough to understand their views. Well, with time comes life changes. You may not be aware of changes in thoughts and beliefs that depart from what you knew originally. Consider that the person is the same hard-talking guy, but in order for the transaction to proceed, you need another party: their spouse. How do they feel?

Households can have very different political leanings. I have had the occasion of being politically in concert with the husband and then “yucking” it up in talks with the wife. What didn’t happen was the furtherance of the business. Time was lost and quite possibly a client felt less inclined to move forward due to an opinion. 

Remember your position as a business professional and salesperson.

Considering the blurring between the social online world of business and our personal lives you must be careful. People do look you up and what they find should represent your business and be consistent and inviting. Your personal world today really isn’t confined solely to you as a person. You as a professional and you as a person will coalesce at some point, so don’t get blindsided by your own airings of opinions online or elsewhere.

If a client backs you into a corner, turn to active listing skills (stop talking) and let them explain their viewpoint. Remember, though you may feel like you know someone, do you really? Once they have laid bare their feelings on the topic, let the client know you better understand and respect their right to that opinion and that it offers a lot of food for thought. Thank them for sharing and get back to the business purpose of your call or visit. 

You can also apply the same thinking to the coming holidays and the myriad of greetings and conversations that arise. 


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