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Opinion Editorials

How Long is Your Memory?

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Having a decent memory helps greatly in the real estate game. From a sales standpoint, it helps greatly to remember names and faces. From a customer service standpoint, it helps to be able to remember differences between the 37 homes you visited over the past three weeks as your buyer lurches closer to an eventual decision.

But sometimes a short memory is necessary. Like closers in baseball and defensive backs in football, a short memory is the key to long-term success. Spend too much time dwelling on the failures and your mindset never will get right for the successes ahead.

I’ve not been blessed with such a short memory, unfortunately.

About two months ago I received a call from my Westbrook Village website from a couple asking me to help find them a casita in the Village. We spoke on the phone twice more that week and met one Sunday afternoon to look at homes. No decision was reached as they needed to put her condo on the market before they could buy.

Two days later, I was asked to keep them updated on any changes in Westbrook and more specifically with two of the casitas we’d visited. We scheduled another showing tour for the coming Saturday.

Friday night I get a call canceling the appointment. They didn’t want to look at any more until they had her condo sold. Four days later, I was informed that I’d been fired in favor of someone “with more experience” in the area. Checking through sold listings today, I saw they wrote a contract the weekend after I was fired.

Who wrote the contract? Not someone who has “more expertise” but rather their listing agent, who likely offered some sort of rebate for using her on both sides of the deal.

Now, I don’t begrudge using the same agent for the purchase as for your sale especially if there’s a rebate involved. I routinely offer something similar to my clients. But I do have a significant issue with being lied to.

Real estate agents are accused of being little more than used car salesmen who’ll say anything to secure a deal, but it’s rarely if ever pointed out how often the public will lie to an agent (theirs or otherwise) rather than being up front any given situation.

In what may be a supreme act of chutzpah, I’ve asked for referrals from this couple – since they didn’t use anyone else who works in this area, my expertise likely was not the issue. So what have I got to lose? In truth, it seemed like a far better solution that calling them both miserable liars, deserved or not.

In any event, other buyers and sellers are waiting so the time’s come to try and put this memory behind me and move on to the next pitch. Whether that works is another story.

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Jeff Royce, RE/MAX Choice

    October 15, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    There is definitely a double standard on lying with agents and clients. We are professionals so we are to be held accountable to what we say. The public is allowed to lie to us in return. This is the way it is, and probably the way it should be. None the less, the people who lie to us are not the people we want to work with. Be careful with the people they refer to you, people often have friends with similar values.

  2. Jay Thompson

    October 15, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    “In truth, it seemed like a far better solution that calling them both miserable liars, deserved or not.”

    Deserved, IMHO, but best not to call them that.

    And I agree with Jeff’s comment above. Their friends are likley to be of equal moral fiber.

  3. Jonathan Dalton

    October 16, 2007 at 12:25 am

    > This is the way it is, and probably the way it should be.

    Yes … and no. Though perhaps I’m guilty, inasmuch as the answer “I’m just looking” while browsing in a store is less white lie than “when I need you, I’ll come get you.”

    I just think it would be refreshing to have a client say “sorry, Jonathan, but we’re getting a rebate if we use this agent on both sides” rather than putting things in terms of my “lack of expertise” in a given area. Especially when the agent they used had never completed a sale in the subdivision in which they were buying.

    I agree … the referrals coming from folks like this would be worthless.

  4. Benn Rosales

    October 16, 2007 at 2:30 am

    I have many times fired clients for lying. I am all about loyalty and I demand respect at the very least in return. In Texas, if that happened to me, I would be collecting that commission even if my name was not on that contract- simply on principal. And do not think I would not have lit mr experienced agent’s broker up like a roman candle because no matter who lied to you, it was up to the realtor to follow the code of ethics- rep agreement or not. I’m pissed with you.

  5. Jonathan Dalton

    October 16, 2007 at 5:37 am

    Thanks for the support …

    Trust me, I double-checked my records to see if the property they bought was one I had shown them. The weakness was I didn’t have anything signed. I did discuss agency but didn’t have them sign off on the form.

    I rarely use a buyer broker agreement because I tend to trust the people I work with. It’s cost me in the past and may do so in the future. But it’s hard for me to get my arms around it.

  6. Benn Rosales

    October 16, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    It still falls on the other agent & broker. It is just plain disgusting. I wont even show a home another agent has shown the same client, it’s that simple. What a sad day…

  7. Nicole Mills

    October 18, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    I feel your pain. Not 20 minutes ago, I got an email from a client inquiring about a particular listing. I pull it up, and wham! It’s a home belonging to a couple I’ve worked with recently. I won’t tell the entire story, because it’s one we’ve all most likely lived and heard a thousand times. But, what it boils down to is they lied to me, and it really irritates me!

    Why is it so difficult to speak the truth? Why not just tell me, “Nicole, logically we know you’re right, but because we found an agent that was willing to tell us what we want to hear, we’re going to go with him….Thanks for all your worthy advice, we’ll be sure to remember it when our agent starts hitting us up for price reductions next month…right before the Holidays.”

    I ask you, would that really be all that difficult to say? Put it in an email if you don’t have the chutzpa to tell me to my face.

    Geez…I’d like to have a short term memory about this, but then I wouldn’t remember to keep my eye on the final selling price, which I hate to admit, will give me a small amount of satisfaction while I’m silently singing the “I told you so, I told you so” song. Forgive me, but that’s the only compensation I’m going to get from being honest with them…without receiving the same in return.

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Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

Why robots freak us out, and what it means for the future of AI

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Robots and humans have a long way to go before the social divide disappears, but research is giving us insight on how to cross the uncanny valley.

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Close of R2D2 toy, an example of robots that we root for, but why?

We hate robots. Ok, wait, back up. We at least think they are more evil than good. Try it yourself – “are robots” in Google nets you evil before good. Megatron has higher SEO than Optimus Prime, and it’s not just because he’s so much cooler. It cuz he evil, cuz. It do be like that.

It’s not even a compliment to call someone robotic; society connotes this to emotionless preprogrammed shells of hideous nothing, empty clankbags that walk and talk and not much else. So, me at a party. Or if you’re a nerd, you’re a robot. (Me at a party once again.)

Let’s start by assuming robots as human-like bipedal machines that are designed with some amount of artificial intelligence, generally designed to fulfill a job to free up humanity from drudgery. All sounds good so far. So why do they creep us out?

There’s a litany of reasons why, best summed up with the concept of the uncanny valley, first coined by roboticist Masahiro Mori (Wow he’s still alive! The robots have not yet won) in 1970. Essentially, we know what a human is and how it looks and behaves against the greater backdrop of life and physics. When this is translated to a synthetic being, we are ok with making a robot look and act like us to a point, where we then notice all the irregularities and differences.

Most of these are minor – unnaturally smooth or rigid movements, light not scattering properly on a surface, eyes that don’t sync up quite right when they blink, and several other tiny details. Lots of theories take over at this point about why this creeps us out. But a blanket way to think about it is that our expectation doesn’t match what we are seeing; the reality we’re presented with is off just enough and this makes us uncomfortable .

Ever stream a show and the audio is a half second off? Makes you really annoyed. Magnify that feeling by a thousand and you’re smack in the middle of the uncanny valley. It’s that unnerving. One possible term for this is abjection, which is what happens the moment before we begin to fear something. Our minds – sensing incompatibility with robots – know this is something else, something other , and faced with no way to categorize this, we crash.

This is why they make good villains in movies – something we don’t understand and given free will and autonomy, potentially imbued with the bias of a creator or capable of forming terrifying conclusions all on its own (humans are a virus). But they also make good heroes, especially if they are cute or funny. Who doesn’t love C3PO? That surprise that they are good delights us. Build in enough appeal to a robot, and we root for them and feel empathy when they are faced with hardships. Do robots dream of electric sheep? Do robots have binary souls? Bits and zeros and ones?

Professor Jaime Banks (Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication) spends a lot of time thinking about how we perceive robots. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic that covers anthropomorphism, artificial intelligence, robot roles within society, trust, inherently measuring virtue versus evil, preconceived notions from entertainment, and numerous topics that cover human-robot interactions.

The world is approaching a future where robots may become commonplace; there are already robot bears in Japan working in the healthcare field. Dressing them up with cute faces and smiles may help, but one jerky movement later and we’ve dropped all suspension.

At some point, we have to make peace with the idea that they will be all over the place. Skynet, GLaDOS in Portal, the trope of your evil twin being a robot that your significant will have to shoot in the middle of your fight, that episode of Futurama where everything was a robot and they rose up against their human masters with wargod washing machines and killer greeting cards, the other Futurama episode where they go to a planet full of human hating murderous robots… We’ve all got some good reasons to fear robots and their coded minds.

But as technology advances, it makes sense to have robots take over menial tasks, perform duties for the needy and sick, and otherwise benefit humanity at large. And so the question we face is how to build that relationship now to help us in the future.

There’s a fine line between making them too humanlike versus too mechanical. Pixar solved the issue of unnerving humanoids in their movies by designing them stylistically – we know they are human and accept that the figure would look odd in real life. We can do the same with robots – enough familiarity to develop an appeal, but not enough to erase the divide between humanity and robot. It may just be a question of time and new generations growing up with robots becoming fixtures of everyday life. I’m down for cyborgs too.

Fearing them might not even be bad, as Banks points out: “…a certain amount of fear can be a useful thing. Fear can make us think critically and carefully and be thoughtful about our interactions, and that would likely help us productively engage a world where robots are key players.”

Also, check out Robot Carnival if you get the chance – specifically the Presence episode of the anthology.

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Opinion Editorials

4 simple tips to ease friction with your boss while working remotely

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Find it challenging to get along with your boss while working from home? Here are a few things you can try to ease the tension.

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Woman stressed over laptop in remote work.

Most people probably feel like their relationship with their boss is fine. If you’re encountering friction with your boss for any reason, though, remote work will often exacerbate it—this is one instance where distance doesn’t necessarily make the heart grow fonder. Here are a few ways to remove some of that friction without adding to your boss’ overflowing plate.

According to CNN, determining the problem that exists between you and your boss should be your first step. There’s one caveat to consider, however: Your boss’ boundaries. Problem-solving on your own time is fine, but demanding more of your boss’ time—especially when you’re supposed to be working—may compound the issue.

An easy way around this is a low-impact communique—e.g., an email—sent at the beginning or end of the workday. Since that’s a more passive communication style that takes only a minute or two out of your day, it’s less likely to frustrate your boss further.

If ironing out the issue isn’t your prerogative for now, examining your boss’ parameters for success is another place to start. Does your boss prefer to receive multiple updates throughout the day, or do they want one summative report each morning? Do you respect your boss’ preferred communication styles? These are important questions to ask during remote work. If you find yourself reaching out more than necessary, for example, it may be time to cut back.

It can also be difficult to satiate your boss if you don’t know their expectations. If you’re able to speak to them about the expectations regarding a project or task, do it; clarifying the parameters around your work will always help both of you. It is worth noting that some supervisors may expect that you know your way around some types of responsibilities, though, so err on the side of complementing that knowledge rather than asking for comprehensive instructions.

Finally, keep in mind that some bosses simply don’t communicate the same way you do. I’ve personally been blessed with a bevy of nurturing, enthusiastic supervisors, but we’ve all had superiors who refuse to acknowledge our successes and instead focus on our failures. That can be a really tough mentality to work with during remote periods, but knowing that they have a specific communication style that hampers their sociability can help dampen the effects.

As always, communication is key—even if that means doing it a little bit less than you’d like.

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