Games people play in real estate

games people play

Studies suggest that your experience during a real estate transaction may depend on you and your agent’s ability to communicate. Clear communication between you and your agent should leave no doubt about your intentions, as well as your agent’s ability to convey and interpret motivations from your counterpart. How to understand the games people play in real estate.

A pop-psychology theory called Transactional Analysis, originally used as a psychotherapeutic tool, has been touted as a way to facilitate communication and assertiveness. One of the giants in the field was Dr. Eric Berne, whose work seems to carry more weight in the corporate world today as it did when his self help book “Games People Play” was first published in the 1960’s.

Games people play during real estate transactions

Have you ever wondered why a certain person makes you respond in a way, which, after the fact you thought was unpleasant or embarrassing? Transactional Analysis theory suggests that, unbeknownst to many, we often react and interact with each other in a way that can be described as games. Not so much the games that you might think, but more precisely these are psycho-emotional games that are played to satisfy unconscious needs that were not met during our childhood and adolescence (also called ulterior motives). And because these behaviors and traits are part of our behavioral “repertoire,” we are more than likely unaware of them in many situations. These ulterior motives can get in the way of a successful real estate transaction.

A simple explanation of Dr. Berne’s theory is that there are three mindsets from which we interact: the parent, the adult, and the child. When you interact as the “parent,” you are acting much like you perceived how your parents’ responded to situations; acting as the “child,” you react as you would have when you were very young. However, when you interact as the “adult,” you are reacting autonomously and objectively. Conflicts can arise when the mindsets are not amenable.

For example, if you’re butting heads with your agent because both of you are claiming to be the expert and the other should listen intently, chances are that both of you may be interacting with each other in a “parent” mindset. Likewise, if a home buyer and seller tantrum and attempt to bully each other over accepting the other’s offer, they are most likely reacting as the “child.” While the objective “adult” interacts and reacts free from unconscious motivations, and is most likely to communicate clearly and resolve most issues that interfere with a successful transaction.

Negotiation, like communication, is sometimes described as a game of personalities. It is a common misconception successful negotiators are good at bluffing; this belief may actually originate from a person’s own unconscious tendency toward dishonest communication described by Berne as “ulterior motives.” In fact, top negotiators happen to be honest communicators. Even though Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” is often thought of as a metaphor for negotiation, it might be considered an early precursor to Transactional Analysis, since the piece is about sizing up and dealing with your counterpart.

This article not meant to give psychiatric advice (please seek a mental health professional if necessary); rather, this is meant to offer an alternate perspective of communication with your agent and counterpart. Regardless of the outcome, communication is a key factor in determining whether your home buying and selling experience will be positive or negative.

by Dan Krell
© 2013

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Disclaimer.  This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice.  Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction.  Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.