The killer of relationships, businesses and the economy isn’t the COVID-19 global pandemic, it’s indifference.

Earlier this year when the world flipped upside down, we watched everybody at EXIT Realty rally together because we’re not indifferent as a company; it’s a love affair.  Within less than a week, we had a $50 million Stimulus Package to help our people stay on track. We focused on everything from mental health to having systems in place so that they could learn at home. We gave them tools along with training like an enhanced Mobile Business Card™ and Smart Sign™ technology, so prospective buyers could pull up in front of a listing, text to get the information they needed and not have to go in the home thereby avoiding potential exposure. We reached out personally and connected with our people. Every bit of it worked brilliantly.

Industry-wide, things were different. Some companies really connected and wanted to do the right thing by their clients. They put together virtual open houses and virtual closings in mere days. A lot of people really pulled together.  But we also witnessed indifference. In other companies, people were laid off with just a voicemail message or email; they couldn’t even see the people who delivered the blow. There was nothing personalized about it.  The hurt and the shock people felt was born of indifference.

On the other side of indifference is the opportunity to become a good neighbor, a good citizen and a contributor at work.  Ask yourself effective questions like, How can I do this better? How can I help people feel engaged? People want to be part of something better and yet half our world settles for going to work and not liking who they work for; they don’t feel valued. They’re indifferent, just trying to get the job done.

There’s a big difference between happiness and fulfillment, but you’re happier when you’re fulfilled. Fulfillment can be achieved in the service of helping others.  This is possible in every area of our life.  In our relationships, we can ask, How can I make this person feel valued? How can I make this a ‘wow’ experience?

I’ll share an example.  My truck needed an oil change, so I took it to the dealership where I bought it.  The dirty waiting room was littered with tattered, old newspapers. There was a stale, stained pot of coffee.  The air smelled of cigarettes even though nobody smoked inside. I don’t have much free time, but when I made the appointment, I told them I would wait for the car because they said the work would only take an hour.

I didn’t get my truck back for six hours.

I was stranded. Every time I approached the counter to ask when they’d be done, the reply was, “Soon, soon,” although no one bothered to go back and check. When I expressed my disappointment in their service, the clerk shrugged his shoulders and replied, “You know, that’s the way it always is.”  Indifference.

The next time my truck needed service, I took it to a difference mechanic.  There, they offered me a drive home or a car to use if I need one. They returned my car washed so it looked better than when I brought it in.  They kept me posted on the progress and they were unbelievably courteous and kind.  They went out of their way to deliver an exceptional experience.  I understand and appreciate this superior service, especially since I work in a service industry myself.

When you’re helping someone buy or sell real estate, remember that this is where they will raise their family and live their life. Often, it’s the biggest investment people will ever make and hopefully, one of the ways that they will build a nest egg for true wealth.  These are all serious decisions. I don’t think you can provide an exceptional level of service straight from a computer. The consumer needs an expert who is compassionate and who understands their needs and goals.  Asking effective questions can help.

I practice a morning routine which includes writing or journaling, and during that time, I ask the effective questions that impact the people with whom I’m working, such as, How can I make this person feel better? Whom should I be reaching out to today? How can I make this a better connection? How can I make them feel special/needed/loved? What’s the best way to avoid conflict? Then I act on the answers that come to me.

I truly believe that indifference is the killer of relationships, businesses, communities, and nations.  We can battle this subtle pandemic by helping people to thrive by not just focusing on the bottom line and seeing people as costs to be cut, but by focusing instead on what we can do to bring the most and the best out of them.

We at EXIT feel like we’re on a mission to change lives through humanizing the real estate industry.  It’s a much more holistic way to do business. That being said, we also have to make sure we choose the right regional owners, the right broker owners, agents and staff. We attract the right people by asking those right effective questions.  We’re not indifferent. We’re protecting our people by nurturing a strong, genuine, human connection.