Common etiquette, at least what I have learned and practiced, has certainly evolved in ways that are very different today. “Please” and “thank you” have been replaced with “Can you” or just silence.
“Please” and “thank you” used to communicate civility. It was a request for help and a response for acknowledging help received.
The lack of these manners has also changed how we communicate in the workplace. As a commercial real estate broker, I am in a unique business where my competitors are my rivals one day, and my ally the next. Just like in any partnership, communication is critical to make sure both sides are moving forward to ultimately close a business transaction. Our job is to figure out the right strategy, communicate, and negotiate with one another until hopefully we come to an agreement.
However, common practice of the past is no longer the way business is handled. Fellow brokers today no longer update one another on deals, nor for that matter show any regard for their fellow brokers’ time and effort.
For example, a typical property tour used to comprise of a broker calling several days ahead to schedule a walk-through of a space. Today, we oftentimes hear from a broker with an hour or two of when they’d like to see the property. We do our best to accommodate, but frequently end up getting no-shows, extremely late showings, or cancellations to the showing. This ends up being a huge waste of time– and time is money.
The broker is not necessarily the problem here. Many times, a client today has little sensitivity or respect for a broker’s schedule and has expectations for the broker to work around their schedule.
After accommodating a last-minute scheduling to show off the space, we rarely receive a follow up from the broker to update us on interest from their clients. We will call, email, text– but rarely do we get a response. If a broker’s client is interested, we won’t hear from them until the offer is sent. Earlier in my career, business was handled between brokers and we would discuss what it would take on both ends of the deal to close. We may discuss terms of the buildout, term rate expectations, etc.
We have also experienced deals where brokers on both sides simply go radio silent. If you ask for an update, you can expect no response. Recently, I was involved in deal where a broker represented his client and took us through interest, an official offer, and even space-planning. Shortly after planning, they disappeared from the transaction only to reappear, and disappear again. Our obvious conclusion was that they were negotiating with another party.
I ask myself – “When did common courtesy get thrown out the door?” They say to receive respect, you must earn/show respect. If each of us practices gestures of etiquette, even the smallest actions, every day (particularly with strangers), one would hope to see a domino effect spread, making life–and business– much more pleasant for all of us.