As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, October 2011.
If your people skills have been reduced to climbing over, crushing, ignoring, berating, insulting and dismissing people, you must stop what you’re doing and take inventory. Ask yourself two questions:
Do I care about my customers, employees, co-workers and support staff?
Do I focus on getting from point A to point B as fast as possible without regard for others?
No matter what you do in this industry, don’t forget people are involved. If you’ve forgotten that simple fact, it’s time for a refresher.
In today’s world of social networking and smartphones, in-person interaction often takes a back seat. A perpetual lack of human contact, however, can have serious negative effects on your and your employees’ morale, production and satisfaction. It also can lead to severe degradation of people skills.
When trying to return humanism to your business, consider your internal and external relationships. External relationships include those you have with customers, vendors, regulators and others outside of the office. Internal relationships include those you have with your co-workers, employees and others within your organization.
The better you work with others, the greater the likelihood you’ll build strong and long-lasting relationships. Moreover, whether or not you’re in a management position, your people skills will go a long way in determining your organization’s internal function.
Consider, if you will, the hierarchy of needs developed by Abraham Maslow, a groundbreaking humanist. Maslow’s hierarchy lists the following five levels, from the most basic upward: biological and physiological, safety, belonging and love, esteem, and self-actualization.
A broad-brush summary of Maslow’s theory suggests people must fulfill each level of need before moving to the next.
What does all this mean to mortgage professionals and managers?
For starters, it means you’ll increase your success by understanding people’s needs and how you can help meet them or cope with their absence. For example, it’s difficult to motivate someone to focus when they’re experiencing marital problems. It’s also nearly impossible to expect excellent customer service from an employee whose house is being repossessed.
The point is this: Magnify your focus on people’s feelings and your success will follow. If you don’t believe me, consider the following:
How do you feel when someone pays you a compliment, even for something small?
How do you feel when someone — especially someone with a higher position in your organization — asks for your opinion and ponders your input genuinely?
How do you feel when someone berates you in the presence of others?
Answer these questions honestly and apply them to your behavior. It may seem simplistic, but the art of dealing with people is dying quickly. The next time you think it might be better to meet someone in person rather than send them an e-mail or make a phone call, listen to that instinct.
Who knows, some good old-fashioned human contact might be just what you and they need.
Allan Scharton is vice president of mortgage loans and manager of real estate assets for Liberty Bankers Life Insurance Co. of Dallas.
His experience includes mortgage lending, banking, brokerage and development. He holds a master’s degree in human behavior and developed an accredited course in customer service for a community college in Southern California. Reach him at (469) 522-4458 or Allan.Scharton@LibertyBankersLife.com.