“They thought you were very nice,” said my friend, “but they didn’t think you would be aggressive enough.”

I take that as a compliment.

Story continues below

I had shown a property to some friends of my friend, who were looking to purchase, mostly as a favour to my friend, but always in the hope of bringing in more business. Well, they went with another real estate agent, as the all-to-familiar saying goes.

Someone whom perhaps they thought was more aggressive.

Who needs that, I wondered. What the world needs, is more NICE!

The people who choose to work with me don’t seem to mind that I am nice. In fact, I think they prefer it. I think that’s why they choose me.

Who wants a hard-selling, aggressive, guerrilla tactics salesperson to help them with one of the biggest transactions they will likely have in their lifetime? To me, that would add even more stress to an already stressful situation. And I’ve been there, believe me. With a car salesman who very nearly wasn’t going to let me leave the dealership until I had purchased a vehicle.

Well, let me tell you – all the sales tactics in the world aren’t going to help in the real estate business. Because in the end, it is the person selling the house and the person buying the home who must come to a meeting of the minds as to a good price where everyone is happy.

A house/home is not a commodity owned by a retail giant or car dealership that acts as a middleman to get the product to the consumer. It is owned by a regular person who has lived their life there, loved there, experienced joy there, has many memories invested.

It is an emotional transaction, to say the least.

And so, to me, aggression is a trait that need not apply. If anything, kid gloves would be more appropriate.

I remember being told at least once during my previous career as a broadcast news reporter and anchor at a local TV station that I was too nice for that job too. I took that as a compliment also.

I don’t think there is such a thing as being too nice.

Being told I am too nice for something certainly isn’t going to encourage me to be less nice. The world has enough of that already. There are much worse things than being too nice. And I don’t wish to be any of those things.

And so, to all the naysayers who say I am too nice for anything, I say, “Thank you!”

I am very happy to be too nice for you.


  1. A subject too close to my heart and a little personal. One event in particular: I never talked business at home during my prior 30-year marriage. As a good European-style wife in a patriarchal family, I dutifully brought home 20 and 30k paycheques representing my end of transactions. I worked long hours by choice, as and when needed to fulfil my client fiduciary duty. But one day in particular comes to mind… another agent, a giant bully at my old office, had brought an offer on one of my listings, for which I was grateful on behalf of my Vendor of the moment… and I made the mistake of engaging in a horrid discussion using the kitchen phone as I was preparing dinner. (Long before cell phones.)

    Having heard a one-sided conversation, when I hung up the phone my spouse said, and having recently seen my chartered accountant’s filings… “you know – you are NEVER going to make it in the real estate business (round about year five); you treat people too nice.”

    And then there was the monthly corporate luncheons out of town – I think we were in London or Waterloo golf links beautiful dining hall. RLP had a local gentleman agent someone had mentioned he was the oldest active agent in the corp, small in stature and very tidy and business dressed quietly elegant in a dark suit (I can still see him and that would be back in the mid-80s and if memory serves me, something in the range of eighty in age. To best of my knowledge I had never met him; I’m sure I would have remembered him – so pleasant.

    As we were leaving, he took the networking opportunity to introduce a very very young man to me as we were on the wide stone steps, leaving. Bear in mind I didn’t know the senior gentleman… but seemed that he knew me.

    And I will never forget his kind words as he embellished my career to the clearly newbie who was apparently doing well.

    The older one said something to this effect: “follow her career and business style; that’s what got her to the top in this company… she is a “nice” one, a really special nice one, always treats others well and with respect and helps others put deals together. (One just can’t forget such an encounter!) I always wondered how he knew that.

    Interesting variable definitions of the word “nice” – one such group… from

    archaic Fastidious; scrupulous.

    ‘The figure of Justice, you know, is represented with a balance to weigh out to every one his due, with nice and scrupulous exactness.’

    Unlike in many languages wherein words have dedicated meanings, Canadian English in particular often presents itself having multiple meanings for a single word.

    Linguistics is a fabulous study, watching endearing changes happen as disparate cultures and incongruous elements move from place to place and cause whole new languages to take shape.

    Carolyne L ?

    • What a wonderful story you shared Carolyne. Thank youfor that. This is important in so many ways:
      1. it goes to show how ones dealings resonate within their profession and
      2. how your dealings were not only noted but a recommended benchmark for the up and coming by an experienced colleague.
      3. you enhance the profession

      We never know what is going on in the mind and life of another, so to be gentle in the wake of attack not only can diffuse a volatile situation but can also be a catalyst for change in the aggressor.

      No one should ever be a doormat but we all can take a deep breath and a step back before succumbing to the temptation of lowering ourselves to their level.

      • Thank you, Jeff. Much appreciated.

        Another odd experience: a newbie was hired by the RLP office mgr. Without consulting with me he re-routed my incoming calls to her, allegedly telling callers I was too busy and he would send someone in my stead. It was ages before I found out, when a past client notified me.

        But she had said one day in the office: “when I grow up (perhaps 35), I want to be just like you.”

        Open bullpen environment. She had let it be known she had chosen a career in real estate to find a wealthy husband. Married with tiny children. But she wasn’t kidding and did, apparently, eventually.

        She ultimately became very successful and told me personally she had been given many of my calls. That got her off to a roaring start. But with all years, she never became like me. A tiger cannot change its stripes. I don’t see myself as anyone special but for sure I treated people well, whoever, wherever they were.

        I brought an offer years later on one of her expensive listings. She was so angry that the would-be buyers didn’t call on her sign that she completely sabotaged the offer, right from the get-go, having one of her team work the paper. I maintained a quiet professional behaviour throughout one of the worst business episodes in my career.

        Started with confirmed appointment and sellers away and no access to the house. Had to wait two hours for a team member to be located through answering service to bring a key.

        It was said she lived in the street and was going to punish my buyers. She didn’t want them as neighbours because they didn’t call her. The buyers were past clients several times with me. Ultimately the listing expired.

        My buyers chose to offer on something else. They even called her to ask what was her problem. As with how she treated me, she used a sewer mouth: F-this, and F-that. My buyers were horrified. No matter how successful she became, married wealthy and lived each half year in Belize with the rich and famous, she never grew up and became “me.” A real bully. Kind of sad.

        Takes all kinds to make a world. A beautiful woman with evil insides. Our industry attracts all personalities as sales reps. But it’s situations such as this that gives the industry a bad name. The buyers still talk about this after all the years.

        Carolyne L ?

        • Wow Carolyne, this is truly horrible. I can imagine the anger and shock you had and how much energy it took to keep your professional cool when you first found out of the redirected calls/lost business and to experience this when you brought her an offer is not only unprofessional but insane! And to think that your own broker did this to you is beyond comprehension! Thankfully Karma has a way of evening things out in the end so while she lives in the lap of luxury sharing caviar with the rich her actions are recorded and will be due an payable when no amount of money or influential connections can help her in her final judgment so she better enjoy her temporary paradise while she can. I am still shaking my head at this.

          • “Nice” will always be the right thing to be/do. Maybe we don’t get every deal out there because some others are not “nice” but to me it’s important that I can put my head on my pillow at night and have no regrets. Yes, I have missed some “deals” by being nice but as Jeff said, Karma is for real . If not now, maybe later. Good night to my “nice” fellow agents.

          • Jeff, I refer you to an old post. I can say these things because they are true. And in February 1991 I opened my own boutique real estate business, a unique concept at the time, completely on my own with an old-fashioned secretary who took shorthand and knew how to set up a boardroom properly for a meeting. She knew from nothing about how a real estate construct worked. But had a solid business background as a corporate VP assistant. She understood how an office worked and that’s all that mattered to me. Everything real estate related, I did, and we worked hand in glove in the unique way I did business.

            I took a five-year lease in a brand new building, and I got to choose the leaseholds: carpet, paint colours and such, all coordinated with my signage and stationery I had created. All brand new teak furniture made my office a welcome place to work and meet clients.

            I had worked diligently for ten years and had built a before unheard of 24% market share in my dedicated trading area, and my customers and clients spoke highly of me.

            Only some of literally boxes of client recommendations appear at my original website, at the link on the top of each page called: Carolyne’s Clients Speak, at Carolyne.com needing to scroll down that page till you get to the specific spot. That page was intended to have only a couple of references but it just grew over the years and changed style a bit wherein I added my own private comments to each writer’s words. Sort of a backup supporting transaction story if you will.
            Then came my dozens of consumer education articles that brought even more clients.

            I suppose there’s a possibility of a book in my real estate history someplace. As I near 80 years of age, and never having had to deal with illness, I find being incapacitated frustrating. I am learning to almost be able to run up flights of stairs gently, again.

            I was always high energy. But never in a rush. I researched everything possible en route to my success; I met colleagues years after the fact who went through similar experiences that I did when working for a magnificent company brand that I never had intention of leaving. Such a shame. They too left. And went on to create their own success at other companies. The problem wasn’t the company brand per se. Just unskilled poor management but with such high office production numbers head office VP’s didn’t care how offices were run. The magic bottom line was magnificent. And I contributed to that bottom line in a big way.

            Because others were subsequently subjected to the same treatment as they became successful (you know who you are and I know you read REM), four of five local offices closed completely in 1991- for several years, leaving only a little more than a dozen agents in one new office location.

            Then franchising became the thing. And a local city next door manager bought the franchise and moved several agents from the nearby town to create the base from which to build a large franchise using the brand name.

            I loved the old brand, and was unduly loyal right to the end. Several months after my having left, the firm was involved in a giant lawsuit. I received a call from head office asking me to be a witness. Although I loved the VP who made the call dearly in a business sense, I had no choice but to decline. I said after what had transpired during my tenure I might turn into a hostile witness and do more harm unintentionally than good.

            I never followed the lawsuit story and never inquired as to who was involved. I was far too busy retaining my market share in my own boutique company in one of the worst recessions to date at 1991. The laughter was hilarious as colleagues said I wouldn’t last six months, as they had no fall-back plan in place to deal with the recession, forgetting my greatest learning curve had been surviving doing business when interest rates were 18-23%.

            So here is a REM link to read if you hadn’t done. Just the way real business operated in our area at the time.


            Carolyne L ?

  2. You can be nice and be tough at the same time since tough doesn’t mean aggressive.

    I just ran up against an aggressive, insulting, abusive bully whose sole purpose evidently seems to have been to scuttle his buyer client’s interest in purchasing my client’s property so that the bully could sell his own home to them while also trying to pocket funds illegitimately- yes, that’s correct.

    And he’s a well known salesperson at that.

    I refused to deal with him on his terms and kept him far away from my clients.

    My clients hugged me, thanked me and called me tough for which they are appreciative for they know they would have been taken advantage of otherwise. And they’ve also called me, kind, nice and compassionate.

    The bully lost and lost much more than he realizes by angering his buyer, angering my sellers and by crossing ethical and legal boundaries that won’t be allowed to fade away so that he can continue to bully others.

    There are ways to deal with aggressive and difficult people. This industry unfortunately is rife with them but there are proven techniques that can be learned via courses and reading to effectively neuter them.

    • Hi PED:

      I like your use of the word “neuter” when referring to how to deal with scumbag bastards like the one you had to unfortunately deal with. It is a proven fact that when a male has his gonads removed he becomes a less aggressive being. Snip ’em, I say! Then hoof ‘im in the groin for good measure. Then kick him the hell out of the business. Let him sell Kirby vacuums door-to-door. He should be good at sucking.

  3. Kudos to you Sharon. It is always a pleasure to do business with “Nice” people.
    We have all at some point in our business come across agents that act and think as they are all in real estate. We also know those individuals are usually full of themselves but lack as a true human being and sadly adding to nasty in this world.

  4. Thank you for this article Sharon. I have also been described as ‘nice’ and lost some business due to this. I always struggled to understand why my being nice has anything to do with how hard I will fight to get my client the best deal. They are not mutually exclusive. I just take comfort that ‘like attracts like’ and that I get ‘nice’ clients and have a wonderful journey with them where everyone is happy at the end of the day.

  5. Thank you for sharing this with the readership Sharon, this is a topic that is never really outwardly addressed and you sharing your experience is fodder for one to realize we cannot be everything to everyone. In your scenario, the prospective client wanting you to be who and what you are not and your confidence in yourself as a professional not willing to compromise your values while respecting the wishes of them is admirable. I agree we need more “nice” in our world and for the most part I am sure that is the mindset of the vast majority so leave the aggressive tactics to those that live in that camp as the proppective clients that want that are thankfully of the minority allowing people like you (and I live by the same mantra) can continue to serve our “nice” clients and continue to raise the bar of the Real Estate Profession in the public eye.

    • Good for you Sharon. Aggressive, manipulative, mercenary sales tactics are the bane of all sales vocations. Those who don’t possess confidence in their natural ability to deal with people honestly need not apply to become a real estate sales hack…but of course, they always will…and that is exactly how they will practice their trade…as manipulators for their own back pockets. Sad.

      But remember, when you find yourself up against one or more of those hacks, you don’t need to be nice. Surprise, even shock the bastards, and put them in their place. You might be doing them a real favour.


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