Brokering. It’s a speculative and difficult job. And one whose do or die pay structure too often delineates how it is done. Doing it well demands defining and embracing the profession’s essential duality. More than finding space, more than being knowledgeable, more than being available and attentive, more than being scrupulously honest, there is one ability all successful brokers must possess. We must be diplomats. This means far more than being able to couch a potentially painful concept to someone in soft language. What we must be able to do is open the eyes of each side to the others needs, and show how small accommodations lead to implementation of larger goals. Then we must translate this clarity into a written agreement. Diplomacy then devolves in to therapy as we soothe the wounds of obstinacy inflicted during the bumpy run to the finish line of lease execution.
The question posed by some landlords, often in less than genteel tones, – “Who is paying you?” speaks to the essential issue of our jobs. The correct answer is NO ONE, unless of course, a deal is done. We are not paid to find someone for a space, or find a space for someone, but to broker a deal between two parties. We have done our job only if we get paid, and we only get paid if we bring two parties together to execute a lease. This gets more complicated when lawyers and architects enter the mix. So for landlords, the answer is, you are paying me if I get you a deal in spite of yourself. We must find the most diplomatic way of imparting the idea that just because a landlord is good at buying buildings, it does not mean that they are as good at closing leasing deals with tenants. The same holds for tenants. An owner of a retail business might have some experience doing deals and working with people. However, that does not make them a lease negotiator and closer. So the honest answer to that question is, I do not work for the landlord, nor do I work for the tenant. I work for the DEAL
Brokers must diplomatically defuse tensions that arise when emotions flare at moments of impasse. The end of the lease negotiation period is always the most difficult. Weariness of the process, and perceived slights caused by the sense of giving in too much always threaten the end game. Bringing it home then and being able to close, is what separates successful brokers from stymied ones. The key here is to get both sides so angry at you for being so persistent that any residual animosity gets deflected to you. Opposing parties become partners in getting the deal done.
We should embrace rather than avoid the duality of our role, and be able to intelligently and openly explicate it to all sides. The best analogy is to a diplomat. They are employed precisely for their skills/abilities at being able to open the eyes of both sides to the needs of the other. Diplomats clarify to their own governments how a small accommodation to the needs of another nation creates a reciprocal situation, and therefore an atmosphere of amenability conducive to agreement. Openness and honesty creates trust. And trust does deals.