August 23, 2019

Finding Just Right

When Goldilocks committed her famous trespass upon the home of the three bears, we are aware of her critique from the inspection. The porridge was too hot or too cold. The bed was too hard or too soft and the chairs altogether too big. Rather whiny considering she was mid-felony. This week we are going to talk about how we make something ‘fit’.

Let’s start by talking about ‘us’, collectively, and how we go about ‘fitting’. ‘High-context’ culture was a term used by anthropologist Edward Hall in the 1970s to describe close-knit groups of people with stable traditions and clear values. Communication in these cultures is often dependent on the contextual elements so that much of the meaning is conveyed outside of the spoken word and through symbol, body language and the roles that different human actors have in the interaction. Even if you were to speak the language unless you knew about all of this contextual meaning, then you would be unlikely to follow and you would certainly not be able to ‘fit in’. Japan would be an excellent example of a high-context culture.

A low-contrast culture conveys communication in ways that are direct, precise and explicit; and it is why high-context cultures can feel a bit confronted by the frank and radically open way that westerners talk about issues. Western science seeks to achieve no context and a ‘pure’ statement of observation.

When we meet in an intercultural space, the culture clash that sometimes occurs is not one of ‘difference’ – because every human being has an idiosyncratic difference – but rather one of different context. Hall suggested that the low-context cultural group will give way and yield to the persistence and norms of the high-context culture, but in many ways, he was a man struggling to understand multiculturalism. If neither culture alters, or one alters too much, there is tension. But where everyone is able to alter to accommodate the context of the ‘other’ and can see evidence of adjustment for themselves, then there is room for everyone. We all fit. Even Goldilocks found her ‘just right’. 

Where ‘just right’ comes into our world as real estate agents are the matching of buyer requirements to properties. The craft of selling homes extends far beyond finding a suitable 3 bed, 2 baths, 2 car properties in a family-friendly location. No. It is about understanding the context of a buyer and ‘why’ they are seeking the specification they are seeking in a property. Once you take the time to understand the context then you can really match them with the context of a home. 

Notice I said home, not property. Property is the tangible bricks and mortar, the legal right, the square footage; but a home is context. It is the one bolt that screws in while the rest of the slide. It is the hypothetical pool that you are imagining in the front yard. It is the extension that you could create for a dream master suite – a sanctuary. When a buyer walks through a property inspection it is always about the alteration. Adjusting that house into a home so that it ‘fits’.