As chil­dren we're all taught not to talk to peo­ple we don't know. Fiona Blayney pon­ders the prac­ti­cal­i­ties and asks: What im­pact does this have on our real es­tate lives?

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - FIONA BLAYNEY

Green and white stick­ers once adorned let­ter­boxes across a com­mu­nity; they rep­re­sented a Neigh­bour­hood Watch (NHW) ‘safe house'. If your let­ter­box had one of these stick­ers you were con­sid­ered a safe house for chil­dren in need on their way home from school. They were a fan­tas­tic idea back in the day when kids were walk­ing home from school; should they come into trou­ble they had some­where to go for help.

Not only did we have NHW, but we were also schooled about

‘stranger dan­ger': ‘Don't talk to strangers' was the motto of choice, and no doubt there is an on­go­ing sen­ti­ment that ex­ists to­day for kids.

The prob­lem is I love to talk to strangers, and through ex­am­ple en­cour­age my kids to speak with strangers on a daily ba­sis. I'm chat­ting with the guy at the cof­fee shop, the cashier at Wool­worths – I'm even ‘one of those peo­ple' who will pay a com­pli­ment to a ran­dom walk­ing down the street. I've made new friends through the kids play­ing at the park, and of course my work leads me to speak with thou­sands of strangers each year.

My daugh­ters, how­ever, have be­gun to chas­tise me for such com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Un­der her breath my el­dest whis­pered to me on the bus re­cently, “Mum, you shouldn't talk to that man – he's a stranger”. And I was hit with the re­al­i­sa­tion that, with ob­vi­ous in­tent, I've been teach­ing my kids not to speak to any­one they don't know.

But life isn't pos­si­ble if we don't talk to strangers. How would we all func­tion? In some of my think­ing time, this ‘stranger dan­ger' anec­dote led me to won­der how this in­grained les­son im­pacted the work­ing life of the real es­tate agents I coach. I won­dered how many peo­ple live with an un­con­scious fear that some­thing bad will hap­pen if they talk to peo­ple they don't know.

Now we've hit an era where we not only need to be able to speak with strangers, but com­mu­ni­cate with them on­line too! De­cod­ing who peo­ple are, what they want, and whether we should em­brace them or be wary has been taken to a whole other level. Un­pack­ing your re­la­tion­ship to speak­ing with strangers may pro­vide some in­sights into how you feel about pick­ing up the phone, prospect­ing for clients or even deal­ing with new ones. Per­haps a stranger is not a dan­ger; it's a friend we haven't met yet?

On the flip side of ‘stranger dan­ger', I won­der if we have be­come more com­pla­cent. I have no doubt that most busi­nesses have a height­ened aware­ness of the po­ten­tial per­sonal risks in our in­ter­ac­tions with the pub­lic; how­ever, have we dropped our guard when it comes to how we man­age this risk day to day? Do we think, ‘She'll be right; it won't hap­pen to us'?

As I recorded Trans­form's self-de­fence ses­sion I re­called that all of our ‘ana­logue' meth­ods for man­ag­ing peo­ple move­ment (the in/out board), or the safety word when call­ing into the of­fice, have gone un­men­tioned for some time – and with the lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion I won­der if so too have the prac­tices. Are you long over­due to in­voke your ‘safety poli­cies' to main­tain se­cu­rity in your of­fice? When was the last time you dis­cussed the safety of your team?

At our place, whilst we haven't ki­boshed ‘stranger dan­ger' com­pletely, we are mov­ing to­wards ‘tricky peo­ple'. We're teach­ing the lit­tle peo­ple in our life that when Mum and Dad are around it's okay to talk to strangers, but we all need to have our re­cep­tors in tune for ‘adults who play tricks on chil­dren'. I know a few adults who could do with a tun­ing of their re­cep­tors too!


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