4 strategies to help team leaders defuse agent-to-agent drama 

Helping to facilitate strong agent-to-agent relationships is crucial for team leaders and brokers, writes trainer and CEO Suzanne Seini, and takes practice and guidance.

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April is Teams Month here at Inman. Adding nuance on top of our weekly Teams Beat email newsletter, we’ll serve up top insights from the best team leaders across the country as we dig deeper into what it takes to build a team, scale it, and even leave one.

Agent-to-agent drama happens more often than we like. Effectively defusing it leads to happy clients, successful agents and increased revenue. But we must bring the issue to the foreground and train our team to handle it. 

We’ve seen it before: An agent strong-arms their way into a transaction. Client emotions soar, deadlines get pushed, offers are declined, and suddenly, we lose it on another agent, or they badger us until we break.

Now, with the news of the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) settlement and the winds of change blowing against previous compensation models, there is sure to be a difference of opinions about how to divide and conquer compensation issues peacefully. 

Here are my top four strategies to defuse agent-to-agent drama. 

Stress management 

As leaders and innovators, we want the first thing we read to be simple facts, stats, and steps to prevent and fix problems. That’s why most experts end their articles with softer skills like self-care and well-being. My strategy leads with it. 

Naming emotions as they arise creates space to make better decisions. Real estate is stressful, and stress can cause our bodies to go into fight-or-flight mode. As soon as that happens, the thinking part of our brain shuts off, and we literally cannot think clearly.

If we want our agents to succeed, we must teach them to acknowledge what their bodies are doing, name what they’re feeling, and give them tools to down-regulate because they can only control themselves. 

I’m not an expert at this, so I invest in a wellness coach who comes to our training sessions and teaches my agents to listen to their bodies and identify the calming skills that work for them. I do yoga and practice breathing. Some agents journal, meditate or sing in their car

The point is that they need to know how to become calm so they can remain confident in any given situation. They can only do that if they are self-aware. 

Protip: These are transferable skills, and your agents will thank you for your support for years to come. Loyalty helps generate leads.

Role-play personality types 

Many companies use personality traits to help employees identify their strengths and weaknesses. Our team uses them to role-play real-life conflicts.

A common scenario is when a listing agent demands a contingency removal and gets snippy. We start by identifying the personality type, trying different scripted and improved responses, and practicing how we’d move forward with negotiations. 

As leaders, we’ve experienced far too many real-life scenarios that have caused our own emotions to rise. We can transfer the lessons we’ve learned by practicing — in a safe environment — what we would have done to de-escalate a heated encounter.

This is also the perfect opportunity to remind each other that we all make mistakes and can offer grace and forgiveness to ourselves and each other. 

Protip: Transparency creates a stronger team. 

Understand contracts 

While emotions may naturally arise, focusing on the contractual aspects rather than personal feelings is crucial. I once had a client who wasn’t going to close on time. The other agent told us that they’d only move forward if my client paid them $200 per day. I could’ve been offended, but I knew it wasn’t in our contract. What I felt about that agent didn’t matter, so I said, “Absolutely not.” 

It can be tedious for new agents to learn about the structure of contracts and read through the legal jargon. However, teaching our agents that the contract can help mitigate drama will incentivize them to examine the document thoroughly.

Emotions have their place, but they shouldn’t cloud the bottom line. Teach your agents to let the facts speak for themselves, and leave the drama for reality TV. 

Protip: People perform at their best when intrinsically motivated. 


All too often, a lender needs two more items from a buyer, or there’s a delay on the appraisal that will lift contingencies, but the agent waits until the last minute to share those updates. Maybe they’re nervous about asking for more time, or they just don’t prioritize updating others.

But when it comes to maintaining a good relationship — and your brand’s reputation — it’s imperative to set the expectation that new agents communicate changes with coordinating agents as soon as possible.

You can prepare your agents for common setbacks by providing a script: “Hey, we just need two more days. Can you let your seller know we’re so sorry, and we’ll be able to remove contingencies very soon.” 

Protip: “Clear is kind.” — Glennon Doyle  

Building strong agent-to-agent relationships is crucial and takes practice and guidance. Training your agents to become self-aware, work with different personality types, know their contracts and over-communicate will not only build a successful team but also create harmony and prosperity for everyone involved. 

Suzanne Seini is the CEO and owner of Innovate Realty in Southern California. Connect with her on Instagram. 

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