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Treat each other fairly

Sometimes in life, and in property, things can go wrong, or just not as expected. This might be human error (I’m yet to meet anyone who doesn’t make any), or sometimes, things just happen (a join on a pipe may go, or a washing machine give up), but inevitably, over time things will go wrong. I start this piece on this simple fact. What follows may come across as patronising, but I can assure any reader, it is not intended as such.

When things go wrong, we often look for someone to blame, and in the case of disasters in your home, this can be a stressful time and can bring about an emotive response. This is natural for anyone in such a position, but it is not always the most productive way to move things forward. Yes, someone may be to blame, but the chances of anything being malicious, or intentional are extremely slim, in any scenario. The far more likely story is that there has been a mistake or an accident.

My mother taught me at a young age to treat others as I would like to be treated and I find that in no situation is this truer than when making a complaint. This coupled with a calm and level head usually brings about a desirable outcome in a timely fashion. My first thought is always to calmly point out what the problem is. Invariably, the person I am speaking to is unaware of the problem before I bring it to their attention and is happy to address it to find a solution.

However, on occasion, in this line of work, I find myself on the other side of the same situation. At this point, I become even more sure that I was taught well as a child. The instant assumption that something shady is going on, that someone is trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, or simply the level of anger and aggression over simple points is often quite shocking. I always try to chalk it up to an emotional response to a difficult situation, but it seems to me that it is often unnecessary.

The best emails I receive mirror my own thoughts in dealing with a situation. Concise and polite, pointing out what is wrong and asking for a solution. Even the most complex of these can be dealt with swiftly and effectively, keeping a general level of rapport through the interaction. However, often these run to pages of how people feel and why the problem is a problem.

I am not trying to say for a second that I don’t understand this as a reaction. Often problems in property can seem disastrous at the time, even if they are minor. After all, a man’s (or anyone’s) home is his castle and to lose that feeling of safety and comfort is never pleasant for anyone. However, the villainy attached to this industry seems to come to the fore before addressing what the concern actually is.

This may seem like a rant, and perhaps it is. But the point I am trying to address is not one I experience alone. How often do you see someone shouting at the waiting staff over something that they have no control over; or someone being rude to a member of staff in a shop because the garment they bought had a problem in its production. In any area in life, the solutions are quicker and more effective, when the person bringing you the solution feels like you are both on the same side.

The point is not to feel the emotions attached to problems, to do so is inherently human, but in all areas of life, my suggestion would be to treat everyone as if they are on your side and see how far it gets you. Imagine you are the person having to read 4 pages to find out what the problem is before you can address it. The person fielding a volley of raised voices, before a solution can begin. And think how much easier you would find it, to have a polite point that states exactly what the problem is and no more. Think how simple it would be to move it forwards.

I close with an apology, if this has come across as a patronising rant, perhaps it is, but the point is that life is often made more difficult when people try to hammer home a point when simplicity is all that is needed. There is a time to be angry and frustrated, but always tackle your task with an open mind and in future, you may be surprised!

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