I spoke with a business associate a few weeks ago. His line of business is not related in any way to property management. It is an extremely stressful career choice that only a select few can successfully handle. You own a trucking brokerage business where split-second decisions can be the result of large profits or substantial losses. Yet he shakes his head in admiration for us front-line property managers.
Why, you may ask? His explanation was quite logical. Relationships within your profession are business-to-business. Property management relationships are emotional and emotion is an unpredictable partner.
Property managers must remember that every interaction they have with their residents can turn into emotional battlegrounds at any moment. When this happens, we must guide the interaction to its end. Many property managers do not receive sufficient education in conflict resolution or do not have the experience to resolve difficult situations.
We are told that we do not have to accept abusive or rude language, and I fully agree. What I disagree with are some steps taken by some property managers to end the confrontation. I am not a conflict resolution coach, far from it. Sometimes I could use one or two trainers myself. I always put myself in the resident’s shoes and wonder, if that were me, would I behave differently? Very often, my answer is no. Think about the time you tried to return an item to a retailer.
As property managers, we must remember that the problems we are faced with are related to someone’s home, their sanctuary, their “castle,” and sometimes they will go to great lengths to protect it. I believe that education is a path to conflict resolution. If you can educate an owner or board member to understand why something is the way it is, you can potentially divert their energy into positive action. Perhaps it is a deficiency in the Law, and then we can point them in the right direction to help bring about change.
It is a slow and often exhausting path of conflict resolution, but in Aristotle’s words “the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”