BY: Marilyn Stuart

In spite of 2020 being a totally bizarre and difficult year, I hope that you’ve managed to deal with the necessary lifestyle modifications and restrictions without serious compromises to your health, safety, financial state or emotional well-being.  Many of you are working from home, which presents a lot of challenges such as trying to work around children, pets or other family responsibilities.  We’ve all experienced things this year that we probably didn’t expect would be part of our lives but we’re still here and making the best of things!

My contribution to the newsletter is supposed to be about negotiations and acquisitions, but I feel that the most important information I can share with you is important for our professional lives as well as our personal lives.  I’ve been associated with real estate transactions most of my adult life, with the last 20 years being in right of way.  I’ve learned that some of the most important tools for negotiating or being successful in any type of endeavor or relationship involve listening, being empathetic and treating everyone respectfully, the way you would like to be treated.  Of course, you want to make sure you educate yourself all you can about the project, location, timeline and motivation of the parties you’re dealing with.  That’s important, but even more important is the way you show up to people.  Everyone wants to feel they are seen and heard and, especially in our field, many people expect that they are going to be taken advantage of.  Developing trust is so important, as well as asking questions and following through with anything you say you will do.

Things are especially difficult in these times of pandemic and division.  Everyone is even more cautious and nervous than ever before.  If you are just going to enter into a situation with the primary intention of getting what you need, you will most likely have a hard time.  People can feel your aggressive energy, impatience or indifference to their feelings.  On the other hand, if you start out showing that you are really interested in what they want to tell you and listen to their objections or fears, they will usually be more likely to listen to what you have to say and in some cases be more cooperative.  This applies to all types of relationships as well. What is more important now than it ever was is to be kind and considerate of everyone you come in contact with.  Many of us are dealing with major challenges and in some cases hardship, fear, anxiety and even some level of depression.  We’re not expected to be therapists, but even showing up with a friendly smile, kind words and patience towards someone can make a big difference in their day and may even help them deal with something in a different way.  In my opinion, it’s more important to develop a good relationship and really try to help someone in any way you can, rather than to rush them into something they don’t want to do.  We’re all in this together and being kind and helpful may turn out to be rewarding in more ways than you expect.