Real Estate by Debbie Reynolds: Making Assumptions

Making Assumptions

Things Learned in Mediation Training


QuestionsFriday was a full day of class doing role plays and learning about the different methods of conducting mediation with REALTORS®. I have been an ombudsman for 6 years with my board and wanted to learn how to do that job better and be available if there was a situation where mediation may help resolve an conflict.

The instructor was very good and has been a national mediation trainer for 20 years. Mediation is a tool used to get the parties to come together with their resolution to the problem. The mediator purely facilitates the process and moves the discussion toward compromise.

He told a story and it struck home with me that it not only applies to negotiation/mediation but in our daily lives and real estate dealings.

There were two children in the kitchen fighting over the last orange. The mom comes in to see what all the racket is all about. They both are crying out "I want the orange". The mom quickly reaches in a drawer, retrieves a knife and cuts the orange in half and hands a half to each child. 

The children are clearly not happy and start crying out even louder. The mom asks why they are not happy as they each got half of the orange. One child says he wanted the whole orange to squeeze and make juice. The other child said she wanted to bake a cake and it called for 2 tablespoons of orange rind.

The mom realized if she had not made assumptions and had asked more questions, she could have resolved the situation giving each child exactly what they wanted.

How many times do we make assumptions, fail to ask thorough questions and proceed to think for our clients? Next time, stop and ask questions and get to the heart of the matter.  Then take action.


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Comment balloon 26 commentsDebbie Reynolds • April 14 2018 02:34AM


Hi Debbie... that's a great analogy. Making assumptions in any aspect of our lives instead of listening and asking questions can lead to problems.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) 10 months ago

Oh yes, we all know what they say about assuming!  Listening is an important component to our profession.  Every bit as important as talking and informing.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) 10 months ago

Many issues start when people assume everyone is on the same page

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) 10 months ago

Hi Debbie,

Good post. Thanks for sharing. Yes, when we start to assume things we can all end up in trouble.

Posted by Steve Higgins (RE/MAX Kelowna) 10 months ago

Isn't this the truth? No wonder they were not satisfied with the results. Mom didn't take the time to ask questions - and listen.  D

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) 10 months ago

Mom did the logical thing-yet had she asked questions, both could have been satisfied instead.

Posted by Michelle Carr-Crowe Just Call 408-252-8900 Top 1%!, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) 10 months ago

Questions. Questions. And more questions.  What is it that you want? How can this be resolved in a way that feels like neither party loses?  Assumptions usually end in results we do not want. 

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) 10 months ago

Debbie assumptions usually end with bad results.  Always better to wait enough time to make informed decisions.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) 10 months ago

Every now and then we all do this. I will remember the story about the orange.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty, Martha Hilton, Broker) 10 months ago

Interesting analogy Debbie and indeed it is always best to ask questions and the more questions we ask the easier it is to solve the challenges we face, Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) 10 months ago

I have learned from experience that we should not make assumptions. It I should important to ask questions and listen. I love the story.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) 10 months ago

I think I could have learned a lot from this trainer, Debbie.  I need to read up on this.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) 10 months ago

Great story, Debbie.  Both parties could have gotten all they wanted from that one orange!  And so it is with life and business.  

Posted by Carol Williams, "Customized Mentoring & Marketing Services" (U.S.: I specialize in helping agents who have been in the business 2 years or less create a thriving business.) 10 months ago

You've been Featured in The BananaTude Group:

Posted by Carol Williams, "Customized Mentoring & Marketing Services" (U.S.: I specialize in helping agents who have been in the business 2 years or less create a thriving business.) 10 months ago

Debbie Reynolds - Thank you for serving as Ombudsman. What an awesome responsibility and enlightening too. You are forever learning about people.

When it comes to assumptions, I learned long ago, never assume anything. A wise teacher taught me that years ago. You are like a teacher here on ActiveRain. Thank you.

Posted by Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP, Selling Homes Changing Lives (DFW FINE PROPERTIES) 10 months ago

Oh, I love the analogy, Debbie! Asking questions and listening is definitely the way I do business as well. Doing so makes everyone's lives easier - including our own!

Have a fantastic week ahead!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) 10 months ago

I forgot to mention, this is a wonderful post for Carol Williams' Second Chance Saturday features! 

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) 10 months ago

Thank you very much, Debbie, for sharing this story and your classroom experience.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) 10 months ago

Hi Debbie Reynolds, I've learned a long time ago not to assume, always ask, especially if unsure. Great analogy.

Posted by Beth Atalay, Cam Realty of Clermont FL (Cam Realty and Property Management) 10 months ago

THis is a wonderful post and underscores the importance of finding out what is really going on before you jump right in to solve the problem without knowing what the problem is!  Like a parent we are just focused on problem solving but we need to know what the problem is

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA, (Keller Williams Capital Properties) 10 months ago

Good morning Debbie - I will remember that example.  That is a great example of here both sides to resolve.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) 10 months ago

Good morning Debbie Reynolds,

I'm so glad that Carol Williams featured your post her her Second Chance Series..I missed it! You are so right..ask more questions..don't assume. As Myrl Jeffcoat commented "Listening is an important component to our profession."

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) 10 months ago

Hi Debbie

That’s a  good example to illustrate your point. Assumptions can be risky in our business, whether we make them or our clients do. It’s much better to be proactive and ask rather than assume.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) 10 months ago

Sometimes it's hard to realize our interpretation IS an assumption and may be (ok, likely is) incorrect. And then asking the right questions can be difficult, too.

Keeping this story of the orange in mind should certainly give pause enough to realize there may be a different result in another's mind.

Thanks for sharing, Debbie Reynolds and good luck with your mediations.



Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) 10 months ago

Never assume Debbie Reynolds it can get you into trouble .So glad Carol Williams put this in SCS as I missed this one

Posted by Hannah Williams, Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818 (Re/Max Eastern inc.) 10 months ago

Debbie, what a tremendous point you make.

I fear that far too often we look at things from our own mindset and fail to be in touch with the needs of others.

I agree: Don't Assume.


Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA (Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty) 10 months ago