How we almost lived in a hotel indefinitely (jk but srsly)

Upon arriving in Brunei, we spent the first month or so completing some major to-do's in terms of getting settled here: namely buying cars and finding a place to live.  Fortunately, God blessed us with a number of good, timely options for prices within our budget on both fronts and we ended up with cars and an apartment we really like.  Unfortunately, while house/apartment searching, we inadvertently pissed off our realtor.  (Mom, please "pardon my French," but I can't seem to find a better way to express what happened.)

The story goes something like this...

Basically we were considering two options:
1. Live in a large house (4+ bedrooms) with our friends, the Adertons, for a year if the house met certain criteria (two living rooms so each family could easily still have their own separate "space" for relaxing, hosting, and family time, and a monthly rental rate that, when split in half, would be within our budget).
2. Live in an apartment or small house in close proximity to the Adertons (within walking distance).  This was a big priority for us to be close to each other if we weren't able to find a house to share that met our criteria.

After the realtor had showed us a few (3-5) options of larger houses she asked us repeatedly via text message which one we were going to decide on.  After visiting those houses and deciding none of them would be suitable for sharing, we wanted to keep looking and asked if she could show us any options in category 2.

Her response via text message was as follows:  (a little hard to understand because of the misspellings and abbreviations, but you get the gist)

u both very farcy difficult i never came aclose is type of clients tis is first time bcos of [a friend of ours] i help her she n her husb is very good not like u both dufficult to handle u try other agent i too tried

Wowza.  I felt a little like I was punched in the face after that one!

We diplomatically responded right away:

I'm very sorry [name]! We're not trying to be difficult we're just learning what houses are like here in Brunei.  We think you are doing a very good job, we just need some time to decide.  How can we not be difficult to work with?

Her response and the last contact we ever had with her:

Dun need to decide jus stay in HOTEL

I was utterly shocked and very confused.  Accustomed to American customer service where the customer is always king I couldn't believe how she responded to what seemed to me like a very reasonable request.  We truly were not trying to be picky or difficult, and while I understand that our request for two houses/apartments in proximity to one another was a little out of the ordinary, I assumed it was still a reasonable request a realtor could work with, or at the very least tell us graciously that she couldn't help us find what we were looking for.  But nope, not so!

And the weird thing is, we were likely just as much at fault for the whole debacle as she was.  Her expectation was that we would decide quickly on the few options she showed us and she would get us a good deal if we acted quickly.  Our expectation was that we would keep looking for options (as long as it took) until we found one that was as close to what we hoped for as possible.   We inadvertently acted overly demanding, picky, and difficult (by her perception) because we came from a completely different context and culture that defined what we thought was normal and reasonable interaction between realtor and client.

In the end, our friends found the current apartments we live in (right next door to the Adertons!) without using a realtor.  And we are very happy with them.

But I came away from the experience learning some valuable lessons.

1. Don't underestimate how culture and background shapes you and your values, expectations, etc.  And don't let differences bother/offend you.  This situation was the first time we experienced an obvious clash of cultures and values and we expected it wouldn't be our last.  It's all part of the adventure of learning to live in a culture that is not our own.

2. Sometimes people get mad.  It's ok!  Apologize and move on.  (This one was especially tough for me since I tend to be a huge people pleaser and get very uncomfortable with conflict, especially when someone is offended or mad at me or my behavior.)  I am learning sometimes you may be at fault in some way, sometimes you may not be, but either way it only makes matters worse if you also get offended at how the person who's mad at you is treating you.  This is not to justify the actions of a person who angrily sins against you, but to make the point that it is also a sin to respond (directly to the person or in your heart) with contempt or insecurity.

3. Think outside the box if necessary, keep trying, and you will likely find a way.  Also cover problem situations in prayer.  That's what we ended up doing since we burned our bridges with the realtor.  And just as we hoped and prayed, God came through and provided us with the perfect apartment so we didn't have to "jus stay in HOTEL" forever.

The view from our back balcony

No comments:

Post a Comment