How to communicate with foreign buyers effectively

Australia is quickly becoming a very attractive investment destination for foreign investors, with buyers showing great interest in our country’s lifestyle, economy and educational institutions. With so much international attention, it is becoming increasingly important for real estate agents to develop their understanding of intercultural communication.  Although you may have shown yourself to have excellent interpersonal skills with those who are English speakers, dealing with overseas clients is an entirely different conversation. 

Miscommunication can occur without you even being aware of it.  However when it does occur, it can lead to uncertainty and distrust about others’ intentions, which has the potential to affect your success as an agent.  As a native English speaker (which many CENTURY 21 agents are), you may not even be aware of the errors in understanding that may happen in your interactions with a foreign buyer.  But if they are occurring, it likely means that your international client is putting up with the visible problems of the miscommunication. 

A simple way to ensure that your dealings with foreigners are conveying your intended meaning is to be as direct as possible.  Try not to use large words if a more straightforward (even if not as sophisticated) term exists.  Construct your sentences to be shorter and more concise, and your meaning will come across more powerfully. 

It is amazing how much we employ metaphors in our everyday language to make a point.  We even mix multiple metaphors together!  While as a native English speaker you probably understand the metaphoric meaning behind phrases such as “he really stepped up to the plate and grabbed the bull by the horns”, the literal meaning is something much different, and can cause confusion for foreigners.  Again remember, be as direct and specific as you possibly can. 

It is no secret that different cultures have different values and customs.  The Chinese, for example, believe that young people should have respect for their elders and can be suspicious of those with whom close relationships have not been established.  Other cultures place importance on high levels of formality, and can be insulted by being called by their first name too quickly into the relationship.  Take the time to research the background of a foreign associate and keep this in mind during your relations. 

Try not to imply anything.   The English language uses conditional words such as “could” and “can” more than any other culture.  To your foreign client, words like these mean “will”.  Although it seems like a repeated concept, directness is again key here.  Always try to be clear in your meaning, and ensure that your client has understood your point.  

The possibilities created by increased foreign investment are exciting for the real estate industry.  It is important to develop an understanding about the people with whom you will be dealing and communicate effectively for maximum value in your relationships.





Posted by Reality Bytes - Real Estate Training Blog on 20/04/2010 at 5:21 PM | Categories:


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