How to Handle Disagreements with Clients

Nobody enjoys disagreements, especially at work. In the high-stakes, high-stress world of real estate, differences are bound to happen from time to time. How you handle yourself and how you navigate disputes will likely be remembered far longer than the subject of the disagreement. Here are some things to remember when things go awry:



Be honest

Always provide your truthful perspective and recollections, even if they differ from those of your clients or other parties. Your integrity as a professional and person is a valuable commodity that you should always recognize and protect.


Keep your cool

Avoid showing your emotions, even when you feel justified. Projecting a calm, professional demeanor will be more productive than flying off the handle. If you feel yourself becoming emotional, step away and take some time to regroup. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.


Be respectful

Remember that everyone involved in a disagreement deserves respect and is entitled to their perspective. One of the best ways you can show respect is to listen. Hearing someone out, even when you don’t think they are in the right, demonstrates that you value them as a person and that you care what they think and feel.


Talk in person when possible

Especially when tensions are high, it can be beneficial to speak in person or on the phone to hear voice inflections and ask for clarifications. Speaking in person instead of trading text or email messages can also help diffuse tense situations. You can always follow up conversations with written summaries for documentation purposes.


Don’t take things personally

Although disputes can sometimes seem like attacks on your professional abilities and integrity, the root cause has nothing to do with you. Try to leave your ego out of the equation and stick to the facts during discussions and communications. Maintain a professional demeanor and avoid becoming defensive.


Call in a colleague

Asking a trusted colleague for advice or to intervene may be a good idea. Other agents may have had similar experiences and could offer useful insights and guidance. A colleague may also be able to validate your position to others, lending credibility and bolstering your stance. Or, they may offer you some insight into constructive ways to resolve the dispute that you hadn’t considered.



Learn to anticipate problems before full-blown disputes occur. For example, if you have a client who seems on edge or overly concerned about a particular matter, troubleshoot by asking questions or providing additional information.


Remember, real estate transactions can be pressure cookers for some clients, particularly those who are simultaneously undergoing other life changes or buying or selling in difficult markets. When disputes occur, be generous with understanding, apologies, and forgiveness. Your long-term reputation is often more important than a short-term disagreement.