One of the most important attributes of a real estate agent is professional expertise. A real estate agent must be familiar with all aspects of real estate and have sound knowledge in this field. Equally important are language skills, which particularly come to bear in business dealings with international investors. A third important trait is intercultural competence. In this article you will learn more about what intercultural competence actually is, and how it is used in practice.
The importance of intercultural competence in the real estate business
What is intercultural competence?
In an increasingly globalised world, the work of a real estate agent is tremendously important. In a multicultural context, you meet people with different backgrounds, worldviews and traditions. What is deemed normal in one country might seem inappropriate or even insulting in another country. Apart from language skills, interacting with other cultures also requires a certain amount of sensitivity to avoid embarrassing mistakes.
However, intercultural competence is not as daunting as it might sound. In the end, it requires nothing more than showing an understanding for other cultures and being aware that cultural differences do exist. With the right mindset and approach, communicating internationally becomes child’s play.
How do I learn intercultural competence?
Successfully negotiating international business deals in the real estate sector requires a certain amount of open-mindedness. Express interest in the unfamiliar and learn to see things from different perspectives. This will allow you to cope with new situations and unexpected forms of behaviour. Moreover, your candidness will convey a sense of acceptance and welcome to your dialogue partner.
Another important factor in this regard is self-reflection. Put yourself in the shoes of your counterpart and ask yourself what impression you make on someone from a different culture. Which aspects of your own culture could seem strange to someone from a different cultural background?
How do I prepare?
The first step in the right direction is to prepare properly. If you as real estate agent are aware that you will be meeting international investors, inform yourself beforehand about possible cultural differences that might come to bear. Carry out research on the internet (with caution) or acquire professional literature on the topic of intercultural competence that includes country-specific examples.
In this way, you can avoid unpleasant situations and conflicts. You will gain a better understanding of your counterpart and relinquish any frustration or unfounded bias about the person.
German punctuality, for example, is not always considered something positive - in countries like France or Spain, arriving a little late is completely acceptable. In some Asian countries, you do not shake hands when meeting somebody, and you should avoid physical contact altogether. In Japan and China, it is customary to exchange bows, while in the USA, a short, firm handshake is standard practice.
Also keep in mind that the art of negotiating may take various forms. This is very important, especially in the real estate sector. As a real estate agent with intercultural competence, you must expect your counterpart to be used to a different style of negotiation.
Keep an open mind and prepare well, but always remain authentic to avoid unpleasant situations from arising. Find the right balance between being accommodating and being authentic, this will maximise the impact of your newfound intercultural competence.