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Blind Date

Many years ago I went on a disastrous blind date. While I didn’t realize it at the time, the experience taught me a secret about people that I have found invaluable in my real estate career.

My date was the beautiful cousin of a friend who, from the moment I picked her up, made clear she wasn’t the least bit interested in me. Still, she let me take her out for a fancy dinner where things went from bad to worse.

For most of the meal I tried to engage her in conversation but all I got back were one word answers. Finally I gave up and we just sat there in awkward silence until for some reason I noticed her earrings and commented on them.

And everything changed.

Her eyes lighting up, my date told me where she had gotten the earrings. Then she proudly shared that she had a collection of earrings from all over the world. The more I expressed interest in the subject, the more she seemed to enjoy herself. When I finally pulled up to her apartment to drop her off, she thanked me for a wonderful evening and even gave me a kiss goodnight.

I never saw her again. But the lesson stuck with me: all people hold dear certain things that have deep, personal meaning to them. Find out what those things are and you hold the key to capturing a person’s attention.

How does this apply to real estate?

At a recent listing appointment, for example, I learned that the homeowners had once lived in Burma. When I asked them about Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize, we were suddenly talking like old friends.

Another time, during a particularly difficult negotiation, I noticed the calligraphy-like signature of a demanding buyer’s agent. All resistance from the agent melted away as he told me about how it had come to be that way.

Because real estate is such a people-centric business, it makes sense that anyone who takes a sincere interest in others – acknowledging and appreciating their distinctive humanity rather than treating them like stepping stones to a commission check – may have an easier and more successful time doing business with those individuals.

I am often reminded of this when I see something that once held no meaning for me until it became part of my own personal story:

A unique pair of earrings.