People behaving badly

May 19, 2010 at 6:42 pm 4 comments

By Esther Denn, CCAM, ARM

Quite often in property management, you run across people behaving badly.  Recently, a leasing agent went to show a prospective tenant a unit that the tenant had leased with little information as to the location.  The leasing agent was gone for an hour and the other leasing agents in the office were left wondering if something happened to the agent.  Finally, the agent returned and recounted the following.   When they both arrived at the unit, the prospective tenant burst into tears.  The leasing agent was mollified and spent a better part of an hour trying to console the client.  What had gone wrong?  First of all, the tenant had spent quite a bit of time sharing her concerns about needing a quiet location, away from noise and pollution.  She had shared her health and safety issues with that particular leasing agent and location was of primary concern to her.  Another leasing agent in the office had shown that particular unit to the prospective tenant without having all of the background and pointed out the location from afar rather than taking the tenant up to the actual location and showing it.  When the original agent arrived at the unit with the tenant, the tenant discovered that it was located next to a busy freeway.  So why was there an extreme reaction of tears from the tenant from viewing a unit?  Upon further reflection, the original leasing agent divulged that the tenant had past experience with a life threatening illness, problems with allergies as well as a past attempted break in at the former home.   In thinking it over, the leasing staff realized that there were other things going on in the tenant’s life that contributed to the behavior.  They chose to be compassionate in handling the situation with the tenant and attempted to find another location that met the tenant’s needs.

That same week, I attended a homeowner association board meeting where a board member and the husband who was in attendance at the meeting behaved badly.  They screamed at a vendor attending the meeting as well as the rest of the board members, the manager and the owners in attendance and walked out of the meeting.  Later upon further research, it appeared that they were angry over certain items being revisited on the agenda.  They also had invested a great deal of energy and time in rewriting certain rules that they felt were important and were possibly in danger of being changed.   And lastly, they held deep resentments towards the particular vendor and felt that they were victimized by their choice of vendors.  Later in reading the emails from the board member about the meeting, one phrase stuck in my mind, “I am ashamed and embarrassed.”    In reflection, the manager realized that a little more explanation could have gone into the agenda items.   There was also a realization that there is always something else behind the behavior and we are not always privy to it.  So what are your options when you are presented with bad behavior.

It takes teamwork, learning to play well with others as well as an understanding of human behavior, compassion, patience and knowing when to intervene and when to let things be.   To be truly effective in property management, you have to develop a thick skin and a knowledge base of people skills.  Before jumping into the fray of a heated discussion, ask yourself the question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is this argument to my life?  It is amazing how you can learn to let go of things that have little importance in your life.   Another favorite axiom is “Don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired.”  A slip in any one of those areas can lead to bad behavior.   Know yourself.   There is nothing worse than feeling bad about why you did something and not knowing why.  How can you know yourself?  Ask others for feedback and be willing to hear what they have to say and change those behaviors that are not working for you.  I love that question that Dr. Phil asks, “How is that working for you?”  Some issues in our lives may require professional help.  Don’t let finances stop you from getting the help you need.  There are many professionals willing to work on a sliding scale and there are support groups available that are free to attend.  One of the best support groups for personal growth is the Al-Anon Family Groups.  You can get information at or for those of you in Southern California.  Last of all, let it go.  We have no control over how others choose to live their lives.  Choose to live yours fully and don’t give others free rent in your head.


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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rémy  |  May 20, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    As a Realtor, I’m reminded daily about People Behaving Badly when I have to keep my own frustrations in check …

    Just yesterday I had an encounter with an unethical mortgage broker. He works for the seller, and called my buyer directly, (without my knowledge or consent) and tried to steal the business away. My buyer was completely insulted at having her privacy invaded, and he made promises that he could “beat any rate” and tried to bribe her with a $2500 incentive to get her away from her own mortgage broker.

    When I called him out for crossing the ethical lines, did he apologize? No! He sent me a 7-page email, ranting about how I mis-interpreted his intentions. Clearly, he put a lot of thought into how wrong I was, and how right he was, but he missed the point entirely. He wasn’t trying to “help” … he was trying to get MY client instead of developing his own client base with the help of his own Seller and Realtor.

    The idea that the buyer was confused and upset … and felt invaded … should have been his first clue. But he fell into the group of People Behaving Badly, instead of owning up to his own unethical standards.

    P.S. I did keep my own frustrations in check and “let it go”. I never answered his 7-page email.

  • 2. Jason Rush  |  May 20, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    In the PM business there are more than “our fair share” of people behaving badily. This is a great post and should cause “us” to reflect on the way we as professionals handle some situations.

    • 3. Property Manager's Corner  |  May 20, 2010 at 8:42 pm

      LOL – sometimes it may seem that way!

    • 4. Property Manager's Corner  |  May 20, 2010 at 8:48 pm

      Thank you Jason. Please help spread the word by forwarding the blog address to others.

      Esther Denn, CCAM & ARM Certified Community Association Manager Accredited Residential Manager

      eDenn Property Management (949) 716-2179 Office (866) 723-2160 Fax

      visit my blog @


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