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Monday Morning Message

8/29/2016

Crafting Your Response
Welcome to Monday! As summer draws to a close and business picks up, it’s a great time to complete our series on listening. The final skill is Responding. If you’ve mastered the other skills in the listening process, then responding should be easier than ever. You’ll be prepared to address the speaker’s most important points with an awareness of the circumstances and context surrounding his/her words.

It’s important to understand the transition between listening and speaking, though, and be aware of the ways responding is still part of the active listening process:

• Don’t complete the speaker’s sentences. This is a presumptuous and rude way to respond. Why do we all do it at times? I think there are several reasons: Sometimes we’re pressed for time. Sometimes we haven’t really listened or evaluated what the person is saying, and we assume that we know what he/she is going to say. Sometimes it’s a person who always says the same thing, and it’s painful. Sometimes he/she is speaking so slow that it’s driving us crazy! Do any of these sound familiar? Perhaps we should look at it from the other person’s viewpoint: Why would he/she say the same thing over and over? Why does he/she talk slow or keep starting over when we interrupt? Maybe we’ll discover that it’s less painful when we become better listeners.

• Address the speaker’s points. It makes it easier for the speaker to transition into a listener when he/she knows exactly which part of the message you’re addressing. Examples include, “When you said… my first thought was…” or “If I can go back and ask you about something you said. You said…”

Something to Think About
While each stage seems like a lengthy process, it all happens in a very short amount of time and should feel natural during a conversation. All you’re doing by practicing these tips is making yourself more conscious of the way you communicate and the bad habits you should avoid in the listening process.

Listening is the most important part of communication, because if you fail to understand the message being expressed to you, you also will fail in providing a substantial and meaningful response. This is the root cause of many arguments, misunderstandings and complications, whether at home or at work. Being able to take control of the listening process will turn you into a better communicator overall.

Weekly Challenge
This week, be aware of your conversations at home and in the workplace. Apply all of the skills that we have discussed this month, and watch what happens in all of your relationships.

Words of Wisdom
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey

“This is the problem with dealing with someone who is actually a good listener. They don’t jump in on your sentences, saving you from actually finishing them, or talk over you, allowing what you do manage to get out to be lost or altered in transit. Instead, they wait, so you have to keep going.” – Sarah Dessen

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said. The art of reading between the lines is a lifelong quest of the wise.” – Shannon L. Alder

“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” – Zeno of Citium

“It takes a great man to be a good listener.” – Calvin Coolidge

“Defensiveness is usually someone silently screaming that they need you to value and respect them in disguise. When you look for deeper meanings behind someone’s pain you can then begin to heal not only yourself, but others.” – Shannon L. Alder

Monday Morning Message

8/22/2016

Abstain from Judging, and Listen with Sympathy
Welcome to another week and a great Monday! As we continue our month-long series on the art of listening, the next skill is a tough one: Abstain from Judging, and Listen with Sympathy.

As someone once advised, “Grow antennae, not horns.” If you prejudge someone as shallow, crazy or ill-informed, you automatically cease paying attention to what he/she says. So a basic rule of listening is to judge only after you’ve heard and evaluated what the person has to say. Don’t jump to conclusions based on looks, what you’ve heard about the person or whether he/she is nervous. Go into each conversation with an open mind, eager to hear what the person is going to say.

Sometimes it’s really hard because you may have a predetermined opinion of the person. No matter how outrageous, inconsiderate, self-centered or pompous the person you’re talking to is, remember: He/she is simply trying to survive, just like you. We all deal with stuff in our lives, but some of us have better survival strategies than others.

Listening with empathy means asking yourself, “Where is this person’s anger coming from?” “What is he/she asking for?” “What can I do that’s reasonable?” You’re not a therapist, and you don’t have to carry other people’s monkeys on your back. But on the other hand, if you can think through what makes people behave like they do, perhaps you’ll be inclined to cut them a little slack. Genuinely listening well is – at its heart – an act of love and, as such, may help heal.

Something to Think About
The art of listening is different in every situation. Sometimes it’s fun, lively and interactive with friends and family. Sometimes it’s a little painful with strangers, family, co-workers, etc. But learning to listen in any situation is a true gift.

Weekly Challenge
A good exercise is to go out of your way to listen to a difficult speaker. Maybe he/she talks with a thick accent or talks very fast or very slow. Or maybe he/she uses a lot of big words. Whatever challenge the speaker poses, seize it as an opportunity to practice your listening skills rather than to judge. Given some time, you’ll soon become more comfortable and effective at listening to diverse styles.

Words of Wisdom 
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – Bryant H. McGill

“So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Listening is active. At its most basic level, it’s about focus, paying attention.” – Simon Sinek

“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.” – Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Monday Morning Message

8/15/2016

What Does Your Body Language Say?
Welcome to another Monday! I hope you’re enjoying this series on listening. It just seemed like a great time to review something important to all of us, in all aspects of our lives. The ability to communicate makes you more successful both personally and professionally. This week’s listening skill is: Be alert to your body language.

What you do with your eyes, face, hands, arms, legs and posture sends signals as to whether you are – or aren’t – listening to and understanding what the other person is saying. For example, if you noticed the person you’re talking to… 
• Glancing sideways
• Sighing
• Yawning
• Crossing his/her arms
• Looking at the ceiling
• Checking his/her watch or phone
• Cracking his/her knuckles
• Watching the activity around you

…what would you think? Like most of us, you’d very quickly get the impression that the person has no interest in what you’re saying. Try these instead: 
• Look into their eyes
• Smile if appropriate
• Raise eyebrows periodically
• Grin at appropriate moments
• Tilt head on occasion 
• Lean toward the person if appropriate

These things show that you’re interested in what the other person is saying. In addition, the active listener usually acknowledges the speaker verbally with comments such as “I see,” “Wow,” “Mmmm” or “Really?”

Some people are contact-oriented, while others are much less so, preferring more space between themselves and the people they’re talking to. You’ll be a better listener if you honor those preferences. Again, when you acknowledge the other person both verbally and nonverbally, you build trust and increase rapport. And you’ll probably learn something too!

Something to Think About
Mary Kay of global cosmetics company Mary Kay Inc. was known for her ability to make whomever she was talking to feel like he/she was the most important person in the room, even though she was usually surrounded by crowds of people when she was talking to someone. If she could do it, as busy as she was, each of us can too!

Weekly Challenge
Listen – really listen – to one person for a day. Choose someone you could relate to better. Commit to listening to – not just hearing – him/her for one day. After each conversation, ask yourself: Did I really make an effort to go beyond superficialities? Did I observe verbal, vocal and visual clues? Did I note what was not said as well as what was said? Once you’re in the habit of nudging yourself to listen better, extend this exercise to successive days, then to other acquaintances. Listening well is a gift you can give to others. It’ll cost you nothing, but it may be invaluable to them.

Words of Wisdom 
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just being.” – Eckhart Tolle

“It’s not about ‘having’ time. It’s about making time. If it matters, you will make time.” – Unknown

“Slow down. Calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Trust the process.” – Alexandra Stoddard

“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” – Jack Kornfield

Monday Morning Message

8/8/2016

Understanding Is an Important Aspect of Communication 
Welcome to Monday! I hope you were successful in learning to listen and be present in your conversations this past week. This week, we’re going to take a look at the second skill involved in becoming a better listener: Understanding.

Understanding what the person is saying is the point in the listening process when you’re able to plan your response. Understanding takes place after you’ve received the information from the speaker and begin to process its meaning.

The best way to completely and accurately understand what they’re saying is to ask questions about what you heard, and confirm that you heard what they were saying. This allows you to demonstrate active engagement with their words and helps you better understand their key points.

Asking questions that start with who, what, where, why and how are a great way to get additional information: “Why do you think that?” “How were you feeling when that happened?” “What did you mean when you said…?” “What was it that...?” “How can I help?” Once you’ve asked several questions to gain additional information and clarity, you’re better able to craft your response.

As you learn to ask questions about details in the conversation, you’ll see that the person you’re talking with is excited to deliver his/her message – because you’re excited to hear about it!

Something to Think About
The art of asking questions will help in many areas of your life. Whether you’re on a listing appointment or working with a buyer, taking the time to ask questions before presenting solutions or properties will always result in a better outcome. And when dealing with objections, you’ll be more successful in coming up with good solutions when you first take the time to ask questions.

Weekly Challenge
This week, practice the art of asking questions ¬– after you’ve listened to what the person is saying – in an attempt to better understand what the person is communicating.

Words of Wisdom
“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.” – Unknown

“The greatest gift you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” – Simone Weil

“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.” – Jose Ortega y Gasset

“Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.” – Jim Rohn

Monday Morning Message

8/1/2016

The Importance of Listening – and Ways to Improve Your Own Skills
Happy Monday! This week I have a very important message for everyone: The art of listening – and how to improve your listening skills.

Communication in your daily life – among friends, family, clients and significant others – is really important for a number of reasons, including fostering self-esteem, maximizing productivity and improving relationships.

Listening seems simple, but it’s more than just the ability to absorb information from someone else. Listening is a process – an active process that’s so important in business and everyday life that we’re committing the entire month of August to it. Each week, we will cover a skill necessary to improve the way you listen and communicate.

This week’s message is on Receiving: the act of absorbing the information being expressed to you, whether verbally or nonverbally. Not all communication is done through speech, and not all listening is done with ears.

No matter how you’re communicating with another person, the key at this stage is to pay attention. Focus all of your energy on the person you’re talking with by following these three simple tips:

• Avoid distractions. This is obvious. Don’t have your cell phone out, don’t text or watch messages as they’re coming in, and don’t have the television on. Don’t try to divide your attention between the person who’s speaking and “something else.” You might think you’re good at multitasking, and perhaps you are, but demonstrating a commitment to the act of listening will make you more respected among your peers.

• Don’t interrupt the speaker. You might want to make an assumption about what the speaker is saying or is about to say, but don’t. It’s rude, and you may find your assumption is wrong, which doesn’t benefit anyone. You can, however, practice nonverbal feedback cues such as nodding to demonstrate your attention.

• Don’t rehearse your response. Not yet. At this stage, your only job is to listen. If you start to plan a response while the other person is speaking, you’re going to miss certain points and not be able to respond to his/her larger message when it’s your turn to talk.

Something to Think About
We all know people who always seem distracted when we talk to them, or who never turn their phones off and feel compelled to check whenever they hear someone trying to reach them. Maybe you are that person.

I recently took a trip with two good friends to relax and unwind. Both are very successful business people, but an interesting thing happened when we arrived at the airport. One friend was on her phone in the car, at the airport, in the elevator up to the lounge and in the lounge. She kept saying, “Sorry, but this is important.” My other friend said, “This is a really important lesson for me. I’m going to apologize to my family when I see them. That’s usually me when I take a vacation with my family, but no more! I never realized how it makes them feel until now.”

It’s interesting that the friend who was observing the behavior suddenly realized how rude it was. The people our friend was talking to were “more important than we were.” Talking to the people on the phone was more important than being present in the moment.

Weekly Challenge
This week, be present when others are talking to you. Don’t get distracted. Don’t interrupt or cut them off. Just listen, nod, and show them that what they’re saying is important to you.

Words of Wisdom 
“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we’re listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” – Menninger

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” – Zig Ziglar

“Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.” – Jill Bolte Taylor

“Sometimes, what a person needs is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a patient heart that listens.” – Unknown

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” – Doug Larson

Monday Morning Message

7/25/2016

4 Ways to Maximize Happiness When You Give

Was last week a great week? Did you do something to help someone else? If so, fantastic! If you got caught up in “life,” no worries; there’s always someone in need, so you’ll have many other opportunities to help others.

Here are 4 ways you can maximize your happiness when giving:

  1. Give to clear, tangible projects. When you feel like you’re giving directly to a project rather than “overhead,” you give 3 times as much – and feel better about it. When you know that your donation is going to something concrete and tangible, it combats a sense of futility (i.e., Will my donation even make a difference?). You feel like you’re making a more direct impact. This feeling of personal impact makes you more likely to give and increases your satisfaction level after you have given.
  1. Give more frequently in smaller amounts. Giving, like consumption, has diminishing returns. Giving $1,000 doesn’t give you 10 times the high of giving $100. Because of this, you really should be giving more often in smaller amounts so you get that pleasure high more often. Look for a monthly donation programwhere you can see the ongoing impact of your donation.
  1. Give with no strings attached. Making a donation to get something tangible in exchange can limit that high you get when giving. The same is true when you purchase something where a portion of proceeds goes to charity. These things can take your decision-making from, “How can I help others with my resources?” to a logical thought process of, “If I buy this, it helps a cause.” It’s not that you shouldn’t purchase products that give to charity, but your brain does not emit the same feeling. Nothing beats a straight up donation directly to a charity with no tangible strings attached.
  1. Give when you know whom your donation will help. Child sponsorship programs have been putting this to use longer and better than most. While it’s sometimes heartbreaking, putting a name and face to the cause gives you a big emotional boost. People will donate 60% more when there’s a name, age and picture of the person who will benefit from the donation. This is called the identifiable victim effect, where we care more about the one person we know compared to the numerous others that are just numbers.

Something to Think About

Giving to others gives us pleasure. It makes us happier which, in turn, leads us to give more, which makes us even happier and... you get the picture. And don’t forget: It doesn’t have to be money. You can use your talents and time to help many in need.

Weekly Activity 

This one seems simple… Let’s find a way to continuously give to help others.

Words of Wisdom

“To be poor does not mean you lack the means to extend charity to another. You may lack money or food, but you have the gift of friendship to overwhelm the loneliness that grips the lives of so many.” – Stanley Hauerwas

“I am a huge believer in giving back and helping out in the community and the world. Think globally, act locally I suppose. I believe that the measure of a person's life is the effect they have on others.” – Steve Nash
“Giving back involves a certain amount of giving up.” – Colin Powell

“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.” – Mandy Hale

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” – Lao Tzu

Monday Morning Message

7/18/2016

Giving Gives Your Brain Pleasure

How was your weekend? Relaxing or exciting? Both are great, and we actually need both at different times (or you can have both at the same time)!

Thanks to technology, researchers are able to see brain activity during certain acts or activities. Did you know that when you make a donation to charity, your brain acts in a way similar to when you’re intimate or eating chocolate? In a study of those who donated to a worthy cause, the midbrain region of the brain lit up. This is the area of the brain responsible for our cravings and pleasure rewards, showing the link between charitable giving and pleasure. It’s true. This reward or pleasure response to giving is the physiological reason behind the “warm glow,” or that good feeling you get when you give and why you may choose to spend money on others or charity rather than yourself.

But does giving actually make you happier? According to a survey and study by researchers, it does. They found that people who spent a higher proportion of their income on gifts for others and donations to charity were “happier.” The researchers randomly assigned people to 4 groups that were told to spend $5 on themselves, $20 on themselves, $5 on others or $20 on others. Those who spent $5 or $20 on others reported being much happier, while those who spent money on themselves showed no change in happiness. Also, the group that gave away $5 was just as happy as the group that had $20 to give away, showing that happiness in giving can be more about the how than the how much.

Something to Think About

If giving gives you pleasure and can make you happier, should you start giving to others if you want to be happier? Research says yes; however, there’s more to it: Research also shows that when you give with the intention of giving vs. giving to get, your response and reward is much better! More about that next week.

Weekly Activity 

Donate your time or some money to your favorite cause. If you don’t have one, this is a great time to find one!

Words of Wisdom

“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

“If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us.” – Daisaku Ikeda

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

Monday Morning Message

7/11/2016

Love: The Magic Key of Transformation

Welcome to Monday! Let’s talk about love. What is love? It seems as though it means different things to different people. Love is difficult to explain in philosophical terms because it’s not designed to be analyzed or explained; it’s designed to be experienced or felt.

Love is the most powerful emotion; it can literally transform a life. When humans feel loved, there is no limit to what they can achieve. I recently met a man who seemed very unsure and lonely, always staying in the background. Several of us started including him when we went to sporting events or social outings and, over the next few months, we noticed that his self-esteem was stronger, and he felt confident to engage in conversations. He seemed and looked happier. It suddenly occurred to me that he felt loved and included. You could see the transformation that had taken place in his life because we took the time to show him love.

Is there a relationship in your life that you would like to have transformed? It all starts with you. Do you love who you are? Do you love where you are in life? Do you express that love in all that you do on a daily basis? Do you show that person in your life love, even if you’re not feeling it from him/her? It’s been proven that as you give and show love to others, you receive love in return.

Something to Think About

One of the easiest ways to express love is to start your day thinking about what you’re most grateful for. Keep that thought as you go through your day. Greet those you meet throughout the day with a smile that says, “You are loved!”   

Weekly Activity 

Do something special for someone you love this week!

Words of Wisdom

“Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

“Happiness is simple. Everything we do to find it is complicated.” – Karen Maezen Miller

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

“The people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.” – Peaceful Warrior 

Monday Morning Message

7/4/2016

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day! Today is a widely celebrated holiday throughout all of North America as well as in other places throughout the world. In Canada, today represents the anniversary of the uniting of 3 colonies into 1 called Canada on July 1, 1867. The holiday is called Canada Day, and everyone takes a long weekend to celebrate. In the United States, we celebrate July 4, which is the day the United States signed the Declaration of Independence, thereby pledging its separation from England. I’ve always found it interesting that the United States and Canada, who share a border, also celebrate – and share – a very important holiday representing independence. It is for this reason that a huge fireworks display takes place over Niagara Falls on July 1 as well as on July 4.

Independence is defined as the freedom from control or influence of others. I think that describes the personality of many successful real estate agents. The things agents say they enjoy most about being a Realtor® include the flexibility, the control over their own time, the ability to control their income and the freedom to create their own path to success. Today we celebrate YOU and that independent spirit that allows you to do what you want, when you want, how you want!

Something to Think About

Real estate agents or not, we all have choices. It’s the choices we make that define and create our lives. 

Weekly Activity 

Are you completely happy with your life? Are there choices or changes that you would like to make? This week, exert that independent spirit and make a change. One that will positively impact your life, your career and/or the lives of those you love and care about most. 

Words of Wisdom

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell 

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” – Paulo Coelho

“The greatest step toward a life of simplicity is to learn to let go.” – Steve Maraboli 

“To be alive is to totally and openly participate in the simplicity and elegance of here and now.” – Donald Altman 

“At the end of life, our questions are very simple: Did I live fully? Did I love well?” – Jack Kornfield

Monday Morning Message

6/27/2016

Play

Good morning! Did you find time to play this weekend? By play, I mean did you do something you really enjoy versus all the stuff you “had” to do? We each enjoy our free time differently – for some, it’s quiet time reading a book; for others, it’s running five miles; still others enjoy a round of golf or a night out with friends.

In our hectic lives, many of us focus so heavily on work and other commitments that we never seem to have time for pure fun. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we’ve stopped playing. If you don’t plan to have fun, you’re more likely to zone out in front of the TV or sit at a computer when you have some spare time. By giving yourself permission to play with the joyful abandon of childhood, you can reap oodles of health benefits throughout life. Play can:

  • Relieve stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote a sense of well-being and can even relieve pain.
  • Improve brain function. Playing chess, completing puzzles or pursuing other activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function.
  • Stimulate the mind and boost creativity. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play also can stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems easier.
  • Improve relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to be a specific activity; it also can be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends and form new business relationships.
  • Keep you feeling young and energetic. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Playing can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you feel your best.

Something to Think About
Incorporating more fun and play into your daily life can improve the quality of your relationships as well as your mood and outlook. Even in the most difficult circumstances, taking time away from your troubles to play or laugh can go a long way toward making you feel better. It’s true what they say: Laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh and have fun remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Play and laughter help you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments and loss.

Weekly Activity

Schedule time to play this week.

Words of Wisdom

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato
“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” – Michael Jordan
“Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves – those who work hard and play hard.” – Colin Powell
“To find a man’s true character, play golf with him.” – P.G. Wodehouse
“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.” – Henry Ward Beecher

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