Making Better Human Connection Through Metaphors or Analogies
Written by Ali Calladine, June 08th, 2017
The people side of real estate matters now more than ever. As it gets harder to connect deeply with clients, prospective clients and colleagues, due to digital communication, busyness, and beyond, it becomes so much more important to connect with people quickly and impactfully. At the very heart of this art are high-level communication skills. By being strong communicators, we can get through to people more quickly, and build the trust and commitment essential to business success.
As our world evolves and we embrace new technology, we must also evolve our communication skills to adapt to these changes. The world moves fast and often we have only a brief moment to get the attention of someone.
One of the most powerful communication techniques to connect instantly with someone is the use of metaphors and analogies.
A metaphor is: a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
Example: I felt like I was talking to a brick wall.
An analogy is: Drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity in some respect.
Example: Think of a real estate agent as the pilot of your process. You’ll want the very best one you can hire.
These communication devices come so naturally to many of us as humans, and there is huge power in them- especially when used deliberately. You can introduce a metaphor or analogy to help whoever is across the table or on the phone understand an important concept clearly. Going beyond that, a massively powerful way to use metaphors and analogies is to be aware of when they use one that really works for them and step into their perspective through that metaphor or analogy. By speaking in the terms defined by someone’s metaphor or analogy- you enter their complicated way of thinking about an issue, prioritize their worldview, and build trust. Both methods of using metaphor and analogy can be total game changers for building trusting relationships with people.
Check out these examples:
- Imagine that you are listing the home of a middle-aged couple in a very sought after, mature neighbourhood. It’s a strong seller’s market and homes that are priced well are selling with multiple offers and often at prices that are well above our highest expectations. The sellers have heard about the frenzy in their market from friends and neighbours and are really pushing you hard to agree to price the property 20% higher than you know will get them the best outcome. Instead of arguing or trying to subtly convince them that they are wrong, what would happen if you said, “Pricing the property at that number would be like throwing a bucket of water on a roaring fire”? It would likely cause them to pause and think. They may ask you why it’s like that or they may just see it without further explanation but either way, the use of the analogy will likely shift their perspective and allow an authentic conversation to occur. They have a chance to see you as a fellow human being who has their best interest at heart.
- Imagine that you are holding an open house and a young couple walk in. They are quiet, reserved and perhaps even a little defensive. They answer your questions with one word answers and avoid eye contact. As they stroll around the home with you, the conversation remains awkward and limited to short sentences. As you enter the second bedroom, the husband says, “you couldn’t even swing a cat in here”. Now, imagine that you laugh and say, “That’s pretty funny – do you guys have a cat?” What do you feel the response may be? Likely it will cause them to pause and see you in a different light. They may say – “no, I was just saying that this room is really small”, or they may say something about it just being an expression or many other possible responses but in most cases noticing and responding to their metaphor or analogy will invite them to shift their perception of you from a salesperson to a fellow human being worthy of at least some level of connection.
- Finally, imagine that a high-power agent in your trading area brings you a low-ball offer on your listing. You don’t want to offend them as you are likely going to be on the other side of the table many times but at the same time, you don’t want to give their low ball offer any credibility or allow it to form an anchor to the negotiations. What might happen if you said, “Thanks for bringing us an offer and we’d love to make a deal with you but this offer is like bringing a moped to a Harley-Davidson Poker run.” By using this analogy, you are unlikely to offend and it’s possible that you could earn yourself a smile. This would be particularly effective if the other agent was a Harley enthusiast.
It is critical to master the people side of real estate. Connection, trust and mutual respect are key to creating exceptional win/win outcomes. Without these things, a real estate transaction is simply about numbers and data – something that computers do well.
To stay viable and valuable in the age of technology, master the communication skills that will help you help other people make great decisions.