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My husband and I are in the process of selling our house. Since this is the first house we’ve ever owned, we’re what you call “First-time sellers.” If we’d known just how much work it takes to ready your house for market, we’d never have bought a house in the first place. Buyer beware.

We are currently working with a realtor that I’ve known for years through business connections. We tried to be right upfront with him and explained this was our first home, so we are real estate newbies. Unfortunately, I don’t think he understands how overwhelmed we are feeling. While he may eat, sleep, and drink, the home selling process – we are completely clueless.

First-time sellers do not understand the process of staging: whereby the nicest objects in your home are replaced with fake items – wall clocks that don’t work, ginger pear hand soap for display only, and a fake loaf of bread that sits in the middle of the kitchen counter.

First-time sellers do not know what’s supposed be documented on the seller disclosure form. Do we list every single thing we’ve ever fixed or just the big stuff? Since it didn’t come with any instructions, it took several back and forth emails to complete.

First time sellers do not intuitively know how to use booking appointment apps. We don’t have a clue how a lock-box works and we worry about who will have access to our home 24/7. But most importantly, first-time sellers have no idea how to prepare their home for potential buyers. Lights on. Blinds open. Toilet seats down. All personal items tucked away. Fake loaf of bread in place. It’s all so overwhelming. Throw in the fact that we have two anxious dachshunds, who also have belongings that need to be removed! When As my realtor and stager rattled off a lengthy checklist for me to follow, I quickly grabbed a pen and wrote it all down. Afterwards, I typed it all up and created a room-by-room checklist.

Here’s my thoughts, why wasn’t I provided with any written instructions on how to do any of this? Don’t realtors and stagers already have a checklist on how to ready your house for showings? Why doesn’t my realtor have PDF articles on his website that offer advice on showing a house when you have pets? Why does my realtor not understand the overwhelm a first-time seller feels?

This past week I was helping one of my clients learn how to blog. They are new to using WordPress. She admitted she did not find blogging to be the least bit intuitive. To be honest, once I looked at it through her eyes, I had to agree. While I have been blogging with WordPress for years, I clearly remember when I too was a blogging newbie. When I first began blogging with WordPress I found it so hard to use. I didn’t know how to change the font size, add graphics, or apply categories and tags. I didn’t even know what categories and tags were!

Remembering how overwhelmed I felt when I began using WordPress, I could totally empathize with my client. So, I began thinking outside the box and came up with some strategies that might better help her. I showed her a much simpler way to use WordPress, made a quick training video, and provided some custom cheat sheets. The end result? My client was thrilled and felt confident she could start blogging.

I think it’s important to recognize that while something may be easy for you, it might not be easy for other people. Often, it’s not until you sit down to teach someone something… that we realize how complicated it is. Always try to step back and remember how you felt trying to learn the thing you are now assume someone else should easily understand. Locking into prior experiences from a different perspective allows us to have empathy for other people and find a better way to bridge that gap.

No matter what business you are in, I encourage you to take some time and think about how you’re treating your clients. Are you making unfair assumptions that they should know as much as you? Do you use jargon that might make them feel dumb? Are they asking a series of questions because you failed to anticipate what they needed to know? These are really important points to consider, because you might not realize just how badly your client is feeling. Nobody likes to feel stupid.

Always be on the lookout for keywords that may indicate they’re frustrated. Phrases like: “I don’t have a clue”, “this is new to me”, or “this is not intuitive”, are not a good sign. When clients use these keywords they are communicating they need your help. Your job is to always meet your client where they currently are and help raise them up to where they want to be.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant