• Patrick Rankin

Are “you” the problem?

As a landlord, how would you feel when a tenant is constantly in rent arrears? Or, how would you feel if a tenant was harassing you by blowing up simple issues. I have a couple of landlords who were in these situations prior to taking me on as their property manager this week. What prompted this blog post is although the solution to these problems are a matter of simple and clear steps. The rent arrears and tenant harassment caused a huge amount of distress for the landlords involved. This lead me to see how different the problem looked when seen by the landlord, compared to how I see it. It’s the difference between “observing” and “perceiving”, which I will get into in this blog post.

One landlord would state that “the tenants are in rent arrears and it is bad”. The other landlord stated that “The tenant is harassing me, and I cant sleep at night”. In each of these phrases there are two impressions. One is objective, and the other is subjective.

The first statement in the sentence is - “This happened” - which is objective. For example “The tenant is in rent arrears”. The second statement is - “It is Bad” - which is subjective. For example “I cant sleep at night”

Objectivity means seeing things as they are, and removing - “you” - the subject part from the equation. This makes solutions much clearer, as the equation is missing all the baggage brought to the equation when - “you” - is involved. This is why the problem was clear to me and the solution was obvious. But to the landlords, the problem seemed like an insurmountable obstacle.

Just think, what happens when we give others advice? Their problems are crystal clear to us, and the solutions are obvious. Something that is present when we deal with our own problems is missing when we deal with other peoples problems - The baggage. With other people we can be objective. We take the situation at face value and set off towards solving it.

Ryan Holiday notes in his book The Obstacle Is The Way that perceptions are the problem. Perception gives us the information that we do not need exactly at the moment when it would be far better to focus on what is immediately in front of us: The thrust of a sword, a crucial business negotiation, an opportunity to grow in the face of challenges. In facing problems it is important to see the problem for what it is, clear of distractions, exaggerations and misperceptions. This is being objective. Whereas being subjective is seeing the problem as an insurmountable issue, a major set back or an inconvenience.

As a property manager, tackling these problems of rent arrears or harassment is crystal clear and the solutions are simple and obvious. Compare this approach with how the landlord perceives the problem of rent arrears with impatience, frustration, and anger. Or the problem of harassment with sleepless nights, stress, and frustration.

If you are facing what seems to be insurmountable obstacles, it may be time to get in a fresh perspective on things.

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