No matter how long you’ve been in the real estate business, you’ve likely experienced your share of negative clients. It’s an occupational hazard. And, of course, there are degrees of negativity, from mildly annoyed to overly irate.

If you’re the kind of person who is conflict-adverse, it can be challenging to work with someone who is negative, and especially angry. But the truth is, it just takes practice to develop the kind of relational skills that can help you overcome the most negative of clients.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Always remember to LISTEN When a client is upset about something, whether real or imagined, the most important thing you can do to initially defuse the situation is to listen to what they have to say. Be caring and understanding in how you listen. Acknowledge what you are hearing, by playing it back to them. Perhaps they have unmet, or even unrealistic, expectations about a specific situation. Or they might just be having a bad day. Whatever the situation, do you best to listen and play back what you have heard so they feel validated and understood.
  • Have EMPATHY for how your client is feeling. The best way to stabilize a negative situation is to ensure that the client feels valued and understood. It starts with listening, but must go deeper. What’s particularly important is to try and understand what they might be going through as someone who is going to sell a home. Perhaps they are selling because of a health problem or financial crisis. Or maybe they are selling because they are being transferred to a new job, and have to leave the neighborhood where they’ve been raising their family in recent years. There are myriad reasons what selling a home can be a traumatic, emotionally-draining experience for someone. If you go into the relationship with an appreciation of what your client might be going through emotionally, you’re likely to build a much stronger relationship.
  • Learn how to ask insightful, intelligent QUESTIONS. It’s easy to let someone’s negativity dominate the situation. But effective trouble-shooting with smart questions can help to set the table for a win-win partnership. What motivates them? Why are they moving? What is their dream home? Good questions show that you have an interest in their goals and dreams, which becomes another way to build trust.
  • EXECUTE flawlessly to build even greater trust. One of the best, and easiest, ways to minimize the chance for upsetting, negative situations is to do everything you promise, on a timely basis. Be on time (or, better yet, be early) for every meeting. If you’re giving a Listing Presentation, make it tight and easy to understand. Respond to their phone calls as quickly as possible. Make sure signs are up when promised, and that paperwork is on time and in order. In short, the best way to establish a positive relationship is by always exceeding your clients’ expectations.

Here’s the thing: even if you adhere to these tips, you’re going to encounter prospects or clients with whom you are not going to connect. Or for whom nothing you do or say is going to make a difference. This is where you have to learn the fine, and subtle art of “walking away.” Remind them that they can always choose someone else, then cut your emotional ties. After all, life is short!