Aikido, in contrast to other martial arts forms, directs the motion of the other person rather than opposing it head-on, requiring little energy and physical strength. In contrast, most other martial arts are about striking and directness. But what do martial arts have to do with Brokerage? Aikido, in brokerage, is an extraordinary way to use another person’s momentum to your benefit because actively reading the actions of others and adding your energy to theirs, as opposed to fighting it, makes for a much more effective Broker.
Brokers should never become argumentative or defensive with clients; it is a recipe for disaster. Contrary to the old adage, the customer is not always right; however, fighting with a customer never works.
Pivoting, the ability to quickly and fluidly transition to a positive, nondefensive posture, is critical to both Aikido and brokerage. Brokerage is the continuous balance between listening and reacting. As Brokers figure out what the next move is they must seek to identify the next move, reduce conflict, and get to “yes.”
Here are a few examples of Aikido and pivoting at work:
About four months ago a Broker called up a potential buyer to discuss an off-market listing the Broker had. Early in the call the potential buyer began berating the Broker stating that the Broker did not have the right to market the property. Prideful and upset that his ethics were called into question the Broker became defensive, (indeed most would have been), and argued that he did have the listing. Suffice it to say the call did not go well.
We decided to call back this time with a different strategy. This time the Broker said matter of factly, “I have the listing and can deliver the property if you are interested.” The buyer tried to argue and the Broker merely asked “are you interested?”, focusing the conversation on a desired result. The buyer said yes. Two days later the buyer put in an offer and the building recently closed because the Broker was savvy enough to avoid conflict and focus on a positive result.
Another example occurred when a Broker called an Owner about a development site. The Broker, quoting CoStar, mentioned a buildable square feet number that was less than the actual. The owner became irate, yelling “where did you get that number?” The Broker, adeptly, used the Owner’s energy and said “I hate when information sources are wrong because it creates unnecessary work and aggravation. What is the real buildable?” The Owner, his momentum now aligned with the Broker’s, continued by sharing the information.
The last example happened several weeks ago on a deal where the buyer had a choice of paying a higher price for a building or receiving less favorable terms. Presented with the two options, the Owner made the business decision to take the less attractive terms and a quicker closing date to save almost $2,000,000. At the end of the contract negotiations the Owner called berating the Broker.
The Broker stayed calm, did not get defensive and used the Owner’s momentum. Instead she focused on a winning argument. She said “I understand the terms are not the best but we saved you almost $2,000,000 so you are buying the building at a great price. That said, are the better terms worth $2,000,000? If so I can get them for you.” The response was a quick “NO!”
As these examples show, pivoting with the grace and acuity of an Aikido master can help Brokers transition to a positive nondefensive posture and close more deals.