September 12th, 2012

Let’s Talk with Kalola: Real Estate Agent

Another Let’s Talk with Kalola, where targets can share their experiences with WBI’s blog readers. Here we go!

Dear Kalola,

I am a real estate agent for a large family-owned company. I have been in the industry for 5 years. Last August I switched offices within the company to a healthier market. I felt I was ready to up my game.

The photo I use of myself was taken 2 years ago. My hair is a little shorter and darker. I have since opted for a longer look and a lighter color. (Those pesky grays.) The first day I was introduced to my new office my hair color was a topic of discussion with my co-workers. (Mind you, some of these people have been using the same photo for the past 30 years … literally.) Three of my fellow agents were ranting about my color, length, and color of my eyebrows. Two stopped but the third kept it up for a year. Then one day he did so with my daughter standing there. She gave him a look and the next time I saw him he did not say a word. Then I saw him a week later and he started up again. I told him to stop it and that it has been a year and he needs to quit it. About 15 minutes later he said he has a house on the river and was wondering if he could photograph me in a bathing suit. I said, “Why? So you can scare away buyers?” I did not know he was escalating. (Mind you, I am average in appearance and shape. I am 52 and look “well preserved” for my age.) Then when I was waiting for my replacement for phone duty he said, “No, would you let me photograph you?” He trailed off to a mumble as my manager was coming up along side of me. I pretended I did not hear him and said, “No. When you photograph a house you need to be on a ladder.” My manager and I then went into a discussion on why and he had a stupid look on his face.

I do not feel my manager will defend me since this guy is a higher producer than I am. So, going to her is out of the question. My home office is out of the question since agents are independent contractors and, well, there are plenty of other brokers to work under. I have phone duty tomorrow and I am not looking forward to it. I feel my only recourse is to have a cease and desist letter written to him if he starts up again. I now know why he was fired from his teaching job now. He was a law suit waiting to happen.


Dear Melanie,

You are in a field of work that has a very competitive culture.  In this kind of culture there can be a lot of backstabbing where some workers can be cut-throat and aggressive.  This scenario doesn’t exist in all real estate offices but does occur, to some extent, due to the competitive nature of sales.

As a licensed real estate sales person, you must work under a licensed real estate broker.  You work for a large real estate company, and you chose to move to a more lucrative market.  Being the new person in the office gave your fellow co-workers something to talk about.  The other sales people were sizing you up and, perhaps, attempting to shake your confidence.   A real estate sales person’s income is dependent on their sales ability, personal drive, and how motivated they are.  No sales means no commission.  Your peers may see you as their competition.


It is best not to respond to your co-workers when they make disparaging remarks about you such as their criticisms about your looks and/or your photo on your business card.  If you don’t respond, eventually, they will stop which two of your co-workers have done.  Don’t feed those that would gossip about you nor should you retaliate by spreading gossip or rumors about those that have talked about you—no tit for tat.


You have been at this work location for a little over a year.  A third worker is still making disparaging remarks about you.  More recently, he has asked if he could photograph you, and you have told him, “No.”  Be clear to him that you are not interested.  Your daughter gave the male worker, “the look”, and effectively silenced him.  You may need to practice giving “the look” and either turn away or walk away from him.  Keep your conversations with this man to a minimum, and engage in only work-related conversations.

What does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) say about sexual harassment?


“It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”

The EEOC goes on to say the following:

“Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”


Before hiring an employment and labor attorney to write a “cease and desist” letter, you might first attempt to resolve the situation by making it clear to the man that his behavior and interest in you must stop.  If the unwanted attention continues, report this to management.  Give management an opportunity to resolve the issue.  If management does not resolve the issue, and the man persists in harassing you then contact the EEOC and discuss what is happening to you at work.  The toll-free telephone number for the EEOC is 1-800-669-4000.   However, at this point, you will likely find yourself looking for another office to work in.


Be professional in your dealings with your co-workers.  Do not engage in office gossip.  Those that are gossiping about others are just as likely to gossip about you.  It is not okay to retaliate by saying bad things about those that have said bad things about you.  No mudslinging allowed.


For our readers—The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook is an excellent resource in learning about various occupational fields.


The Occupational Outlook Handbook notes some important qualities for those that want to be successful real estate brokers and sales persons, these qualities are:

Independence. Real estate brokers and sales agents must be able to work independently, managing their own time and organizing, planning, and prioritizing their work. Some brokers manage a one-person business in which they must handle every aspect of the business.”

Interpersonal skills. Strong interpersonal skills are essential for real estate brokers and sales agents, because they spend much of their time interacting with clients and customers. As a result, they must be pleasant, enthusiastic, and trustworthy to attract clients.”


Persuasion skills. Real estate brokers and sales agents need to be persuasive to convince potential clients of their ability to sell real estate and to persuade customers to buy available properties.”


Problem-solving skills. Real estate brokers and sales agents need problem-solving skills to address, often immediately, any concerns clients or potential customers may have with a property. They also mediate negotiations between the seller and buyer.”


I hope that you will be able to resolve your work issues without having to go to an attorney.


I wish you much success in your field of endeavor.





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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 at 9:00 am and is filed under Let's Talk with Kalola, Target Tale, Tutorials About Bullying. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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