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By Sam Hunter

Director, Homesearch

OTHER FEATURES

Be kind to your mind - talking anxiety in estate agency

Our mental health affects how we think, feel and act. It affects how we handle anxiety, relate to others and impacts our decision making both at work and at home.

It’s unsurprising to hear that in our industry, mental health issues are hugely common place and hugely under discussed.

Estate agency is emotional, and that’s what I love about the profession.

There are very few things in life that give me as much of a high as the triumph and surge of energy I felt when I’d get a call from a client saying they wanted me to be their agent.

Similarly, and particularly early on in my career, I felt the losses hard too. I took it all personally.

Some thought leaders might say that agents need to remove the emotion from the job and rely only on numbers and processes, but I’d say agents without the raw emotions often lose their passion, and with it their underlying care for their work.

The highs are inspiring (and energising), while the lows hit hard. Though we all tell ourselves that a loss is a lesson and they should be equally inspiring to avoid having to feel that emotion again soon.

I have noticed a worrying stigma often attached to estate agents: that we’re extreme extroverts who have very high self-confidence and no mental health concerns.

Having now worked with many agents as well as having been one, I can tell you that this is far from the case. In fact, there are two concerning aspects that have recently been getting more attention:

1. The industry has rampant mental health issues that can get buried amidst the buzzwords of ‘agent life’, ‘hustle’ and ‘the grind’.

2. Salespeople are just as vulnerable to the mental health concerns that plague one in four people in society today. They just hide it behind bravado (and other vices).

Succeeding in the sales industry is hard enough when you consider the constant worry of closing deals, meeting targets, spending time away from family, etc.

Amid these issues, mental health problems are on the rise, making day-to-day agency obligations more and more difficult to complete for those who are struggling. Therefore, managing your mental health concerns is essential.

Work should be a place where you strive to be better than the day before. If you’re reading this and your first thought ‘that’s hard to do’ and you end up faking your smile or not feeling like yourself day after day, my advice would be to move on.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people around the world suffer from depression, with many of them also suffering from symptoms of anxiety. Meanwhile, Health.com reports that sales jobs are among the careers with the highest rates of depression.

Anxiety can be managed when you recognise it. If you are spending long days and nights at work, don’t be afraid to stop and get out of the office to give yourself a change of scenery to clear your mind. You’ll come back to work refreshed.

If hitting pause doesn’t help, share your concerns with your manager or employer.

Talking is just about the best thing you can do for yourself. It will help to alleviate tension and allow your team to form a community of those dealing with similar issues.

Business leaders need to take a stand and make the good mental health of their employees’ non-negotiable policy.

Estate agents who regularly experience high levels of stress tend to be less involved in their jobs, less committed to the business and experience lower levels of work performance and satisfaction.

Employees and managers need to be on the lookout for signs of anxiety and any other mental health-related symptoms so they can seek help or offer support. Your employees invest a lot of time in your company; it’s time for you to invest in them right back.

Stress and anxiety is to be expected from time to time, but managers and team members alike must be on the lookout for more serious problems.

In the years to come, mental health and well-being will come to have the same importance as physical health.

It will come to represent a source of true competitive advantage for agencies who do it well over their competitors who do not.

With a little bit of empathy and support, we can all do more to help our work mates achieve work and personal goals beyond their belief.

*Sam Hunter is Director at Homesearch, the home of property data

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