Building Connection and Trust in a COVID World

Mastering human connection on video or while wearing a mask

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Building connection and trust is harder now and that creates an opportunity for those who can master this important skill.

Real estate success has always depended on our ability to connect and build trust with people so that we can earn the right to represent them in the sale or purchase of their home. As people try to manage the disruption of COVID and the associated uncertainty of that, it’s more important than ever.

We know that the most effective way to communicate with people is face to face.  Research tells us that it is almost six times more effective than communicating through email or text messaging and over twice as effective as using the phone.

And now, we aren’t spending much time face to face and if we are, we are often doing so through a mask.  These are both significant barriers to building the connection and trust that is crucial to a successful business relationship.  (Any relationship for that matter).

To overcome these barriers, let’s take a deeper look at the psychology involved.   My model, the connection triangle shows that the three ingredients to building connection and trust are emotional intelligence, social intelligence and professional empathy.

Emotional Intelligence is our ability to identify and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others.  This takes emotional awareness, application of emotions and helping others understand and manage their emotions.

Social Intelligence is our ability to excel in social interactions and requires high level communication skills, understanding social roles, active listening, appreciating different personality styles and managing the energy we bring to the interaction.

Professional Empathy is our ability to understand what someone else is thinking and feeling and to see the world from their perspective.

How do we use these three skills?  Let’s look at some examples:

If you are having a zoom meeting with a prospective seller, what matters is what you make them feel, not what you have to say.   Spend time up front building some connection and making them feel at ease.   They may or may not have a lot of zoom experience and it is your job to create the right environment.  Make some small talk, ask them questions, try to ascertain their feelings around the technology, be curious about their experience and when you feel that you have a solid connection, address the real estate issues.  Your listing presentation will need to evolve to the suit the new medium and look for blog posts on that in the coming weeks.  For now, be your true self, and use the connection triangle as your guide.

When you are speaking with someone face to face and you are both wearing masks, there may be feelings of disconnect.  Most of us are new to masks and learning to overcome the physical and psychological barriers is important.  Making the other party feel more at ease can go a long way. This starts with you being comfortable with your mask. It might help to practice in a mirror.  Be more exaggerated with your eyes and brows and speak with greater clarity and inflection to convey your emotions.  To help you understand more about them, focus on their eyes, their tone of voice and their hand gestures.  Take more time to communicate and start with small talk to help everyone feel more at ease.

Over 5% of the population has some loss of hearing and most of these people depend on seeing the mouth to understand what someone is saying.  Understand that these people will have the most trouble with masks.  If you are having significant trouble connecting with someone older while you are both masked, this may be the issue.  Ask them if they are having trouble hearing you.  If yes, slow down, speak loudly and clearly or recommend that you have the conversation via video conference.   Perhaps a clear mask is a solution but the experts are still divided on their effectiveness.

The Agents that master these skills will excel quickly as the world evolves in the coming months.  Being your true self, being kind and having empathy during these odd times will help you earn more business and do a better job helping your clients make important decisions.