May 25, 2018

Kathy Cramer: In Search of the Upside

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Kathy Cramer: In Search of the Upside

Psychologist and author Kathy Cramer helps clients see life's rich possibilities, even when real estate and financial markets are tumbling.

Psychologist and author Kathy Cramer helps clients see life’s rich possibilities.

You’re a proponent of "asset-based" thinking. What is that and why is it important?

CRAMER: An asset is something that has value. With asset-based thinking, you focus on your assets—what you have that’s working and that’s a strength. With real estate prices under pressure, salespeople need to decide what assets they can share to help buyers and sellers get through. Perhaps, they’re creative, patient, or experienced in working through a prior downturn. If sales associates aren’t sure what their assets are, they can get feedback from people who know them well—perhaps a sales manager or a long-term client.

How else can real estate practitioners build on their strengths?

CRAMER: I recommend that they remind themselves three times a day of progress they’ve made that day. It doesn’t have to be a financial reward. Interest from a buyer or seller represents progress—a step toward success. They should also ask themselves how they achieved that success.

The best time to consider that question is during a downtime—while commuting, having dinner, and before going to bed. Our ability to engrave memories—particularly positive ones—is best when we’re not distracted by concentrating hard on another task.

You suggest that times of personal or business difficulty offer an opportunity to rethink your goals. Can you explain?

CRAMER: Whenever you face a setback, whether personal or financial, go into a reflective mode and take stock of the situation. See what this time of disappointment has to offer to help you reset your priorities. When you’re caught in a traffic jam, for example, use the time to get to know the buyer or seller sitting next to you better. Shift from what’s uncomfortable to something positive, so you gain from the situation.

Your books, including Change the Way You See Yourself (Running Press, 2008), focus on change. How did you realize change was important for professionals to embrace even before it became a hot concept in this political campaign?

CRAMER: I believe we need to change the way we see our lives. Most of us focus on what’s not working—problems, barriers, what needs to be fixed. But spending the majority of time on solving problems doesn’t get you where you want to go, especially in this world where problems come at us at the speed of light.

During these tough economic times, the best investment real estate professionals can make is to enhance their selling skills, expand their knowledge of new markets, and expand networks to create new opportunities. Your ability to connect and build confidence is your biggest asset in tough times.

You write and speak about the need to liberate ourselves from striving for perfection, which you consider a liability. Why not aim for the best?

CRAMER: We should, but we should also be satisfied with something that might be slightly less than what we aim for.

Life is not about perfection but progress. It’s better to take imperfection and turn it into an advantage. Maybe a house doesn’t have everything the buyers wanted, but it may still be the best choice for them. It’s also important to own up to your contribution to a disappointment. People will respect your honesty and your transparency.

You also say it’s just as important to be influenced as influential. Why?

CRAMER: It’s one thing to take a stand and have a point of view but another to be sure that point of view is malleable. That way, when new information comes your way, you can alter your point of view to keep up with your new understanding of the way the world works.

How else can practitioners remain upbeat when economic indicators point to a continuing slow market and recession?

CRAMER: You can help buyers and sellers make wise decisions when they need assurance they’re on the right track. Coach them so they don’t make decisions alone. But you can also take personal steps to track small wins and stay positive.

During good times, you can take large steps forward and progress seems almost automatic. When times are bad, however, there’s uncertainty, and progress may be hard to come by. Then, you need to focus more on what you’re learning and experiencing that’s valuable.

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