Navigating difficult client conversations

Managing Partner and Senior Sales Associate , ICR Commercial Real Estate
  • May. 8, 2020

Most of us have never experienced a financial maelstrom of this magnitude during our business careers.

It’s a stressful time for many property and business owners. It’s difficult for most of us to forecast with any confidence what our sales volumes will be for the next six months.

There is a good chance you may encounter some tense conversations with clients or associates who are understandably anxious about their current state of affairs.

Expect a positive outcome

A good friend of mine shared a story about a time in the past when he built custom homes.

A couple had engaged him to build their dream home. They had their hopes cast on a window type that cost $50,000, but their budget only provided for $20,000 for this part of project, which they eventually agreed to.

As you might guess, when the windows arrived, they were disappointed. They were still holding onto the picture of the $50,000 windows.

Although respectful of their disappointment, my friend held an image of their eventual satisfaction in his mind. He moved ahead with the installation.

Although the clients would still have preferred the more expensive option, they were satisfied overall with the completed project.

The point here is we can sometimes keep our focus on, and become overwhelmed with, the conflict when we could instead be focusing on a positive outcome.

It somehow provides a stable platform to endure criticism and weather the immediate storm.

Prepare for a difficult conversation

There are times when we know in advance we’re walking into a difficult conversation. In those instances, we have the luxury of preparing ahead of time.

Write down all the potential objections, or what could be considered judgmental statements that might surface during the conversation.

Then take some time to write down your potential responses. Practise those responses while seeing yourself replying in an objective, respectful and confident manner.

If you happen to be meeting with someone who is known to be unreasonable, they may not respect you if you’re not able to respond with confidence.

Always leave them a way to save face or a way out. You can often get a positive outcome when you do not to back them into a corner.

We will get through this . . . and we will be OK.



Born in small town Saskatchewan, I began my real estate career in Saskatoon at a really early age in 1978. Although I can’t claim to be No 1 in North…

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Born in small town Saskatchewan, I began my real estate career in Saskatoon at a really early age in 1978. Although I can’t claim to be No 1 in North…

Read more




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