How important is attitude in the world of real estate investing? It is extremely important, so important in fact, that it can make a huge difference in the overall profitability of your organization.
The typical reference to attitude that you’ll hear is heavily laden with emphasis on how it always needs to be positive. ‘Stay positive!’ or ‘Be positive!’ are the two calling cries of this approach and I can’t say that I disagree with this at all. I just happen to think there’s a little more to it than that. A good attitude has two critical components: what you feel inside and what you convey to the outside world. Today, I’d like to explore three components of a positive attitude friendliness, empathy and confidence.
Note that I’m not highlighting ‘raw exuberance’ or any reference to the classic ‘smile and nod’ approach to pleasing clients, or in some cases, people very close to us. In short, a good attitude is not about exuding energy or being constantly agreeable. There’s just superficiality to that approach that I believe many clients can see right through.
This first component of a good attitude is also perhaps one of the most obvious. Naturally, an investor who comes across as being a bit of a jerk (and unfortunately I’ve met some like this) is not going to be seen as favorably but those that fit this category probably have their reasons. For example, the jerk might say ‘Hey, this is a business and I just treat it and everyone I’m around as if it is a business.’ Sure, treating a business like a business is important but I think a comment like that is just a euphemism for ‘I’m a jerk; deal with it.’ The bottom line is that some people just aren’t nice and probably never will be.
You can look at this and shake your head or you can look at it as a golden opportunity. The jerks of the world are going to bring their bad attitudes to the clients and colleagues they meet and that will only make those of us who are friendly look that much better. Just being professional, cordial, polite, and courteous are elements of the friendly investor’s approach. The integrity comes not from investment expertise in this case, but rather from just being a decent human being and the value of that alone should never be underestimated. You are in a people business and being likable can go a long way towards your ultimate success.
Empathy is simply defined as seeking to understand a situation or the needs of another person. It is sometimes confused with the similar term sympathy and there is a significant difference between the two. Sympathy is to actually feel bad for someone and, in doing so, absorb the emotional impact of someone’s situation. Empathy is no less sensitive but involves less of the emotional side of a situation, making it much more objective which is a good thing for us as real estate investors.
The way that empathy manifests itself is to simply be interested in someone’s situation, ask questions, and legitimately want to understand what is going on. When you can convey this to your clients, it can give you a tremendous amount of respect because you actually are interested in what is going on with the client. Empathy is not just asking questions, though. It is a part of your attitude and will show in both your tonality of how you speak and body language so your empathy must be sincere in order for it to show to a client.
In the world of real estate investing, it is common to work with clients who are in distressed situations. Empathy is an extremely valuable tool to have in your attitude arsenal because clients want to be understood more than they want someone to feel bad for them. Your empathetic attitude keeps a level of business professionalism around your approach but also shows that you care, which can be a very potent and effective combination.
What exactly is confidence? This state of mind is often misconstrued and I think unfairly so. Often times, the confident individual who gets a bad rap is seen as arrogant or, in the case of more laid back demeanors, smug. Is this fair? In many cases, no, but that is how it is and I would like to offer my opinion here on how to convey confidence without overdoing it.
To best illustrate this, let me offer my definitions for arrogance. Smugness, or at least the perception of it, is just quiet arrogance so the same definition will apply to both. Arrogance is a display of confidence that (a) cannot be backed up by real knowledge or experience, (b) is used to demean or patronize another, or (c) both. Arrogance is of course a little more flamboyant and is more noticeable but smugness can be equally detrimental. Many people who themselves are not confident will see any display of confidence, quiet or exuberant, as smugness or arrogance, even if the label is unwarranted. As you develop more confidence in your business, you must work to make it an effective part of your attitude but also be aware that it can be seen the wrong way. Confidence mixed with the right infusion of humility and simple expression of knowledge may well serve you in avoiding being unfairly tagged as arrogant or smug.
The bottom line here is that confidence can be effectively demonstrated through having good knowledge in a particular area without coming across as a know-it-all. In short, when you educate yourself as an investor, that knowledge will show up at some point in the form of confidence. That first meeting you have with a client where you feel sure of yourself and are able to convey that to the client can be a breakthrough confidence builder. When you can consistently convey knowledge-based confidence, the impact on your local reputation will be significant and can mean great things for your business.
A significant and important part of an investor’s attitude has to include flexibility that allows the investor to work with a variety of situations they experience. Flexibility is generally an admired trait, and perhaps better stated, a lack of flexibility is often a negative. Flexibility is not just having an open schedule in which to make appointments. It is an underlying attitude of open-mindedness that naturally welcomes a variety of scenarios and potential outcomes. This is a healthy attitude to have because few deals go exactly according to plan. Be flexible, and you’ll be both more successful and more influential with your clients.
How do you rate yourself, on a flexibility scale of 1-10? It’s OK if you are low or in the middle; the important thing is to be honest with yourself. Many strong personalities have more of a ‘my way or the highway’ approach to life and to business and, if this sounds like you, then flexibility is something you likely need to work on.
Humility, as a component of attitude, is a nice counterbalance to confidence. Humility has been an admired trait in people for a long time and I think, in moderation, it has its place. What I mean by this is, too often, investors can overdo the humility and, in doing so, be seen as either soft or weak. This can be a disadvantage when working with other investors or more assertive clients.
The proper dose of humility can actually work to your benefit. Humility is essentially an expression of ‘Hey, I’m not that different from you’ or ‘I’m no better than you are’ or “I made a mistake and I’m sorry” and can be an indirect way to establish some basic rapport with a client. It effectively offsets confidence by adding a certain human side to a display of confidence and makes the client less prone to see your confidence as arrogance.
From a basic attitude standpoint, I think it is effective to truly think of yourself as being an equal of most people you encounter. If you truly believe you are better than someone else, then maybe you are arrogant and you will just have to do the best you can with that. Too much humility can make you prone to think you aren’t worthy of the success that you do deserve and can foster self-sabotaging behavior. As is usually the case, a good attitude is somewhat about balance and the right balance of confidence and humility can take you a long way.
Commitment to a Favorable Outcome
Underlying the repertoire of every successful real estate investor I’ve met is a dedicated commitment to a mutually beneficial outcome for every deal they complete. While I’ll talk a little more about how this fits into the skill of negotiation later, I think the spirit behind this commitment is a critical part of a good investor attitude. After all, if you are in this business just for the money and do not care what outcome is achieved for your clients, sooner or later that approach will catch up with you. That is just my opinion and I have seen that greed can go so far but does have a tangible end of the road, and I’d love to see you take a more favorable path.
It is more than just a negotiation strategy. It becomes an underlying part of your attitude and could even be more effectively described as a sort of philosophy for your business. When a real estate investment business has such a philosophy, it carries over to most every aspect of how you communicate. The commitment to that ideal outcome will appear in your marketing message, it will be reflected in how you talk to clients, and will be more apparent than you think.
Before you know it, this type of philosophical commitment will actually start resulting in more deals. Why? It will be because this component of your attitude has permeated every part of your business. You will be seen as more sincere because people will enjoy talking to you and will be more responsive to your business proposals. I’ve seen this attitude-based evolution in many an investor and it is always a fun thing to watch unfold. It can happen for you too, so make the commitment to yourself and to how you will do business, and it will just be a matter of time.
It is natural that the formation of a good attitude may be something that you need to work on a little bit. I like to believe that many of us are naturally positive people, but as you’ve seen, there’s more to a good real estate investor attitude than just that. It’s what goes into a good attitude that will also contribute the most to your success and growth. Why do these things need to be built or worked on?
Well, the basic components of who you are as a person will still shine through in your attitude as a real estate investor. If you’re naturally friendly, this will reflect in your attitude. The components like empathy, confidence, and commitment to a favorable outcome may take a little time to develop as you get comfortable in your business and learn more about how things work. For example, it’s real easy for someone to say ‘Just be confident’ but, if you are just learning the business, this may be easier said than done and the confidence will come as you get more experienced and absorb more education.
The bottom line is this. Who you are does shape your overall attitude. What you learn and add to your vault of experiences will mold and refine your attitude and your business.
Brian was a flat broke country boy from Kentucky, turned millionaire real estate investor, real estate expert, author, speaker, leader and coach by age 28. He is the founder of a national private real estate investing, coaching, and mentoring group, Ultimate Real Estate Investors, who’s motto is: Make Money, Live Wealthy, No Excuses!
Brian exercises his passion for real estate everyday by operating a full time investing business and a full time coaching business. He loves teaching the creative techniques he’s perfected to students all over North America.