Feb 15

Navigating Market Challenges: How to Develop Resilience in Real Estate

In the face of economic pressure and market shifts, the UK Real Estate industry constantly demonstrates its resilience by revising strategies, reimagining visions and by keeping a close eye on foresight (as an alternative to relying on hindsight).

Businesses pivot and adapt, exploring innovative ways to stay true to their purpose and remain profitable in the process. Landlords are increasingly creative in serving their occupiers.

At asset level, micro locations are regenerated, and space is regularly repositioned and repurposed to remain attractive.
Resilience has also gained prominence as a skill amongst professionals (largely expedited by additional adversity in the Covid era) and rightly so.
As a leadership and personal development coach, I regularly witness resilience as a common factor between those who navigate industry and workplace challenges opportunistically.

Why is Resilience Important?
Resilience is a key attribute for career success given the industry's dynamic nature and susceptibility to external forces. Professionals who exhibit resilience demonstrate an ability to cope with uncertainties, adapt to ever-changing market conditions, and rebound from setbacks. In an environment marked by economic fluctuations, regulatory changes and unforeseen challenges, resilience also acts as a shield against burnout and stagnation.
Individuals with high resilience are better equipped to navigate the complexities of real estate transactions, negotiations and client relationships. They maintain focussed amid adversity, make informed decisions under pressure, and embrace a capacity to learn from failures. The real estate landscape often requires quick thinking and innovative problem-solving, Resilient professionals rise to the occasion, and capitalise on opportunities.

Those with abundant resilience foster a growth mindset, encouraging professionals to view setbacks as temporary obstacles, rather than insurmountable barriers. This mindset is particularly crucial in an industry where learning from experiences and adapting strategies are integral to sustained success. Ultimately, resilience isn't just a personal trait—it's a professional asset that empowers individuals to achieve their potential in their careers surrounding the built environment.

Understanding Resilience vs Dysfunctional Resilience
Resilience is not merely the act of persisting through challenges; it involves a multifaceted approach to adversity. True resilience is characterised by the capacity to adapt to setbacks, maintain emotional equilibrium, and bounce back from difficulties with newfound strength. It encompasses a balanced blend of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural elements that collectively empower professionals to operate on a much more effective level.

Many people adopt “dysfunctional resilience", a more simplistic response to challenges, by simply trying or working harder without a strategic and sustainable approach. Individuals relying on dysfunctional resilience may quickly start overworking, neglect self-compassion, and risk burnout. It's akin to pushing through difficulties without addressing the root causes or implementing any adaptive working.

True resilience, on the other hand, incorporates self-awareness and the ability to recognise when to seek support and engage in collective problem-solving. It involves acknowledging limitations, learning from failures, and fostering a sustainable performance. Resilient professionals proactively engage with challenges and integrate experiences into their skill set, rather than succumbing to the pitfalls of overexertion and exhaustion. In essence, resilience is not just enduring; it's about embracing change via a specific skillset, learning from adversity, and emerging via personal growth on the other side.

Resilience is a Learnable Skill
While some individuals may naturally possess resilience more than others, it's a skill that can be nurtured and refined through practical techniques and intentional practice. Building resilience involves a conscious effort to develop coping mechanisms, emotional intelligence and a proactive mindset.

It's important to note that resilience is deeply intertwined with self-awareness. Understanding one's triggers, stressors, and coping mechanisms is foundational to effective resilience building. This self-awareness enables professionals to tailor their resilience strategies to their unique circumstances, and adopt the most successful and practical techniques for them.

Moreover, the learnability of resilience emphasises the dynamic nature of this skill. As individuals continue to practice resilience, they refine their ability to adapt to new situations, learn from experiences, and proactively manage stressors. In the evolving landscape of the built environment, these learned resilience skills becomes a cornerstone for sustained personal and professional growth, as well as financial performance.

How to Increase Resilience
Practical techniques play a crucial role in enhancing resilience. One technique which delivers repeated success for our clients is reframing. Reframing is a cognitive technique to alter one's perspective on challenging situations. Instead of viewing setbacks as insurmountable obstacles, individuals reinterpret these situations as opportunities for growth and learning. It involves consciously changing the way one perceives and thinks about adverse events, shifting from a negative outlook to a more positive or constructive mindset. Whilst often confused with “looking on the bright side”, true reframing involves flexibility of mindset.

In the context of resilience, reframing helps individuals develop a flexible and adaptive mindset. By challenging negative thoughts and adopting alternative viewpoints, people can navigate challenges with greater ease. This technique doesn't negate the reality of difficult situations, but empowers individuals to temporarily perceive them in a way that is constructive.

Here’s a Step-by-Step exercise for developing Resilience – PROMIND Coaching’s Pause, Reset, Play Technique
Identify Negative Thoughts: Begin by recognising negative thoughts or interpretations of a situation. This could involve acknowledging self-doubt, fear of failure, or feelings of overwhelm. For example “we’re never going to be able to secure business in this environment – businesses are just not making any decisions amidst the uncertainty” (see the worked example below).
Reflect: Reflect on these thoughts. Understand that these initial reactions might not accurately represent the full scope of the situation.
Question Assumptions: Challenge your assumptions. Ask yourself, what are alternative explanations or perspectives? Consider the aspects of the situation you might be overlooking.

STEP TWO - Reset
Find the Opportunity: Look for positive aspects or potential opportunities within the challenge. Identify what you can learn from the experience or how it might contribute to your personal and professional growth.

Reframe with a Growth Mindset: Instead of viewing setbacks as failures, embrace a growth mindset. Understand that challenges are inherent to any career, providing valuable opportunities for learning and improvement.

Focus on Solutions: Shift your mindset from dwelling on problems to focusing on solutions. Break down the challenge into manageable steps and consider the actions you can take to overcome it.
Do this by asking yourself (and holding yourself accountable to providing full answers) the following questions:
If this was an opportunity, what would that be?
If this ended well, what would that look like?
How could this be useful?
When or where could this be useful?
What am I learning here?
If we were to make this difficulty worthwhile, what would need to happen?
If we were to capitalise on this adversity, what would we need to do?
If we used this to get ahead, what would we be doing?

Move forward with your new knowledge and enjoy the outcome!
In addition:

Cultivate Self-Compassion: Develop a compassionate attitude towards yourself. Understand that everyone faces difficulties, and it's okay not to have all the answers immediately. Treat yourself with the same compassion with which you would treat others.

Practice Perspective: Reflect on aspects of your professional life that are going well or that you're grateful for. This more accurate perspective can counterbalance the impact of challenges and contribute to a more resilient outlook.

By consistently applying the technique of reframing, individuals in real estate can reduce the negative impact of challenges in the market by softening the blow for themselves, their team and their business, ultimately making this an effective strategy to support the bottom line. Though it is learnable and practical approach, reframing isn’t the only technique for increasing resilience. Other successful strategies vary from person to person.

Approaches could include:

- Goal Setting: Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable tasks. Celebrate incremental successes to boost confidence and motivation.
Proactive Problem-Solving: Identify problems as puzzles. Break down challenges into manageable steps and take proactive measures to address them.

- Time Management: Develop effective time management skills to reduce stress and create a sense of control over your professional responsibilities.
Adaptability Training: Practice adapting to change intentionally. Embrace small changes in your routine to enhance your capacity to navigate larger, unexpected shifts.

- Cognitive Restructuring: Challenge and reframe negative thought patterns. Replace irrational or unproductive thoughts with more constructive and positive alternatives. See the R.E.A.L. Coaching Programme referenced below for how to do this.

- Learn from Setbacks: Reflect on what you can glean from the experience to enhance your skills and strategies.

- Social Support: Build a strong support network. Sharing challenges with friends, family, or colleagues can provide different perspectives and emotional support.

- Self-Compassion Techniques: Treat yourself with kindness. Acknowledge that everyone faces setbacks, and respond to yourself with the same compassion you would offer a friend.

- Gratitude Journaling: Regularly write down things you're grateful for. This practice can shift focus from challenges to positive aspects of life.
Humour and Fun: Incorporate humour and fun into your routine. Laughter and lightheartedness can serve as powerful tools.

- Mindfulness: Engage in mindfulness practices to cultivate awareness of the present moment. This can help manage stress and improve emotional regulation.

- Physical Exercise: Regular physical activity has proven benefits for mental well-being, reducing stress hormones and promoting a sense of accomplishment. Mind and body are inextricably linked.

Adopting a combination of these techniques can contribute to a successful multifaceted and personalised approach, which will ultimately support professionals to better navigate their demanding environments and perform better in their roles.

Coaching Session Example
CHALLENGE: The opening discussion in a recent coaching session was “we’re never going to be able to secure business in this environment – businesses are just not making any decisions amidst the uncertainty – there’s not much point in trying”.

CURRENT TRAJECTORY: Low activity; low motivation; negative sentiment; impact of low morale on the rest of the team; income under pressure; discomfort with uncertainty; assuming “market” behaves in unity and all clients are inactive; risk of competitors moving in to build relationships with client base.

This is an understandable interpretation but not entirely accurate. Some businesses are doing something. Many things encourage / force businesses to commit. What are they? Who is completing the transactions that are happening?

Skewed view by the relatively narrow exposure?

Temporary inactivity?

Overly pessimistic?

STEP TWO: RESET (using RESET questions)
Capacity freed to build relationships; opportunity to have longer and deeper, strategic conversations about client needs; opportunity to build credibility and provide thought leadership by sharing insights and increasing communication; opportunity to build trust and reliability / consistency of contact; opportunity to show empathy and deep understanding; opportunity to reduce self-interest and prioritise client needs; time to revisit where resources are focussed / reduce costs and build effective strategies to spot opportunities; possibility of differentiating / outperforming competitors; review target clients and revise if necessary; opportunities to take existing service to new client base? Or offer different service to existing client base? The list went on…

Acceptance that initial reaction was understandable but only one of many potential perspectives.

Noticeable the difference in morale, activity, resourceful sentiment that other perspectives induce.

Retained knowledge that pursuing this process made a significant difference to thoughts, sentiment and ultimately actions taken (and ultimately business secured as a result!).

NEW TRAJECTORY: Increased activity; higher motivation; positive sentiment; impact of positive morale on the rest of the team; potential income generation; comfortable despite uncertainty; accurate analysis of market subsectors; reduced competitor risk; better outcome overall.

My Own Resilience Journey
My own journey toward higher resilience began when the cumulative weight of personal and professional setbacks began to affect my physical health and mental state from acute stress. Visible deterioration in health, mood and sleepless nights with a mind ensnared by worry, signalled that I simply wasn't coping with life's hurdles.

The turning point arrived in a coaching session where I began to understand my own contributions to stress (perfectionism, literal interpretations and a lack of awareness / flexibility to try a different approach, to name a few). Whilst I was facing genuine difficulty and plenty of life’s curveballs, I learnt that it wasn’t the external circumstances alone that were the culprit, it was the lens through which I viewed them that was a problem, ultimately leading to a lightbulb moment that I could do something about it.

By this point I had reluctantly accepted that I needed support, having been used to handling everything myself. I had a deep belief that I should be able to cope, so that wasn’t easy. If I was honest with myself I knew that, without intervention, I was hurtling towards a bad place. I was intrigued with the possibility that by altering my perspective I could make a significant difference, and started to try it out.

My own leap into the realm of reframing was to look at peers and see them take a different approach to mine, but one that seemed to be successful. My coach and I discussed these people. I began to experiment with their perspectives, something which later became truly liberating.

As I tentatively tried to open myself to a different way of thinking, burdens that once felt insurmountable became more manageable, and the fog of stress and overwhelm began to withdraw. It wasn't an immediate fix, but over a few weeks and months of gradual revelation, I had untangled my thinking and reversed the trajectory of my situation.

Positive results then followed swiftly, providing the evidence, motivation and encouragement I needed to stick with new approaches. High on these early successes, I embraced resilience as a practical, achievable skill as opposed to an abstract concept for a fortunate few. It didn’t mean that life’s curveballs didn’t keep coming. They did. But it meant that setbacks were more likely to be shorter and shallower, and knowing that I could do something about them restored my sense of control. This transformation wasn’t about removing the challenges (many of them are still there!) but rather in choosing how I see them and what I do about them.

Imparting resilience as a skill is a key focus of PROMIND’s R.E.A.L. Coaching Programme empowering Resilient, Effective and Accountable Leaders. Click here to request more information.

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