Connect the Speakers: Matt Kursh on specializing in emotional intelligence

Matt Kursh founded his emotional intelligence outfit, Oji Life Lab, because after spending years working for Microsoft in its residential real estate segment and serving on several corporate boards, “my basic observation was that we are all pretty narrow specialists — we know a lot about finance or medicine or coding — but people don’t have the universal skills that everybody needs because it’s just not part of our education and training.”

He’ll be talking about how emotional intelligence can boost the real estate agent’s execution and improve customer experience at Inman Connect New York, January 29 through February 1 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square, and he gave us some insight into where he thinks agents could be focusing more on emotional intelligence in the real estate transaction.

Tell us a little more about your session. How will it address how the industry can embrace the shifting market?

I think there are two angles on this. One is, in a changing world and in a changing market, where can professionals add value? I would claim that it’s in areas that are uniquely human. If artificial intelligence can do the job, then it probably will, but what could be a more emotionally fraught transaction than buying or selling a home? For transactions it wins the day, and that is uniquely human.

Whether you are looking to make the best sale or the best purchase, a talented real estate professional has the ability to offer something unique, but you have to develop that talent, and I would guess that a lot of that talent has to do with emotional intelligence. The uniquely human part is the emotional part.

Emotional intelligence, not surprisingly, has two key parts that apply here. One is understanding your own emotional state and the other is understanding other people’s emotional states, so there’s a very complicated diagram between your emotions, your client’s emotions, the other party’s emotions and the other party’s agent’s emotions, and being able to understand those and how to regulate around them seems to be a very big part of developing successful transactions.

In my experience, almost no one has a really clear and explicit concept of their emotions and other people’s. There are some people who naturally sense it and others who don’t, but even the people who naturally sense it are mostly good at guessing. One thing we help people learn how to do is understand their emotions and the underlying causes as a way to better clarify where they’re at.

A classic scenario in a real estate transaction could be, you have a client who’s upset, and whether you can understand if they’re angry or disappointed, that can help you shape the transaction. Anger is generated by a sense of injustice whereas disappointment is what you’d expect: You’re not getting what you want. Imagine you have a buyer who’s offered a low price — trying to figure out if your client is feeling like somebody’s trying to cheat them, which would be anger, or if they’re simply more disappointed because they hoped for a higher offer, might help you help them deal with the situation because if you’re trying to talk to them about the price and you keep talking to them as if they’re disappointed, that’s a different discussion than if they’re angry, and that’s what emotional intelligence helps you do.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities to focus on in the real estate industry right now?

Add value in those areas where you and humans in general are best able to add value. Zillow was started by a bunch of people I knew from Microsoft, and they’ve obviously done so well — it’s an example of the core of their business, scouring databases. That’s not something humans are particularly good at, which is why Zillow has added value in that area. But there are so many things that we’re really good at; Zillow is never going to be able to read the emotional state and adjust appropriately for a buyer or a seller. There’s no injustice here: The machines will do what we ask them to do, and it’s not that things can’t go wrong, but things will be automated. It means there’s some role we can’t play anymore. And part of emotional intelligence is using these tools to be able to regulate yourself, acknowledge that you’re disappointed, but then go find ways in which you can add value.

What are your hopes for the next 12 months, and what will you be working on?

Our hope is that our emotional life lab will be something that will make a big impact for a lot of people in business, both in their work and home life, and that we’ll get more and more opportunities to use that and our technology platform to help people be more successful meeting their objectives.

Discover the opportunities in a changing market at Inman Connect New York, January 29 – February 1. Jumpstart 2019 with tactical takeaways, unlimited networking and thought-provoking speakers. Learn more.

Thinking about bringing your team? You may qualify for special group perks! Contact us to learn more.

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