6 Hidden Issues Which Can Stop You From Successfully Moving From Here...to There.

Real Estate Broker Owner with Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate

"In the age of knowledge workers, the cliche that information is power is truer than ever". This facts makes withholding information even more extreme & irritating"  Quote from "What Got you Here Won't Get You There" by Marshall Goldsmith.

Keeping Secrets


This challenging & provocative book was a recommendation from my sister.  During a visit, she kept on commenting that she thought she had bought the book to recommend as reading for her mangers...but found herself reading it more & more for herself. 


The author, Goldsmith is a corporate trainer who has evaluated and coached many of the nation's leaders and captains of industry writes about 25 habits that will prevent Successful people from reaching their highest potential

With surprising insight & clarity he pinpoints several annoying & destructive habits & character traits that we tend to ignore or minimize as problems when they apply to us.  Habit #9  "Withholding Information" is the Subject of this post.


"Intentionally withholding information is the opposite of adding value.  We are deleting valueYet is has the same purpose:  To gain power.  It's the same old need to win, only more devious."  Quote from "What Got you Here Won't Get You There"


Withholding information is a  method by which power can  wielded like a weapon.  It often shows up in personal  & professional life & real estate is no exception.


So, Let's Talk About Keeping Secrets:


Keeping Secrets is less about information than it is about obtaining & retaining or regaining control & power.  Agents are tempted to withhold information that should be forwarded to their trainers or brokers particularly when the news might jeopardize their ability to earn the commission. 

Sellers are tempted to withhold information on Seller's Disclosure forms and even lie when presented with the evidence to the contrary. 

Buyers can be tempted to withhold information from the agent who is trying to assist them while moonlighting with other agents to see homes on the side.  People applying for loans "forget" pertinent information about their finances.  The list of ways in which we withhold information is endless. 



  • Withholding information is a means of protecting ourselves from further scrutiny.  



Sometimes, when a deal is going sour, the agent, or client suddenly disappears...they are unreachable in spite of all the modern conveniences of phone, e-mail and fax.  They simply stop responding to human beings...at least if you're the individual they don't want to talk to. This is keeping secrets passive aggressively by defaulting to Mute!



  • The problem is this never solves the problem



The mantra I repeat to agents who I train is this: "When you see an issue developing...Run Towards it, Not Away from it! " There is the temptation to believe the lie that convinces you that what you ignore will disappear or that one is gaining the upper hand by keeping things "secret."  Actually the exact opposite is the case.



  • Keeping secrets can be very costly in a real estate transaction



It can cost a lot of money.  When seller's are presented with a Seller's Disclosure during a listing presentation, I strongly advise them to be brutally honest.  "You cannot be faulted for telling what you know.  Yes, someone may not buy a house because of what is revealed on a seller's disclosure...but they won't be suing you for lying either.  I won't even fill out the address on a Seller's Disclosure for the seller...this is their chance to let go and come clean of any potential damage that keeping secrets can create.



  • Keeping secrets gives birth to two ugly twins...fear & suspicion



When secrets are kept, it becomes very important to remember who knows what.  This can be an exhausting mental hyperactivity.  In addition to all the stresses of a real estate transaction, parties who keep secrets have to contend with the fact having the secret revealed is a distinct possibility at any moment.  They live with the dread that the moment of revelation will not be pleasant.  Keeping secrets exacts a huge TAX on all who are involved in the process...eventually.



  • There's a much easier way to live...It's called full disclosure



Amongst other benefits ,such as a sound nights sleep, and the ability to look another clearly in the eye, here are some that come readily to mind within the context of a real estate transaction.

  • You can't be convicted when you tell the Whole, Entire truth about what you know about the home you are selling.


  • Returning a phone call, even to deliver unpleasant news is better than hanging onto it for several more days...hours..minutes..


  • Telling your manager that you've botched up a transaction is always better than someone else telling her/him


  • Being honest about who you're working with in a real estate transaction saves you Money...You won't be Paying 2 Commissions.

There are many benefits to Not Keeping Secret, but even these limited few are proof positive that a truly empowered Life is a Transparent one.  True power does not come from withholding information, it comes from building loyalty and trust!

Copyright 2007 Audu Real Estate  All rights reserved


This blog post was originally published in 2007 with the title, "Sshh...Are You Too Good At Keeping Secrets"  It is re-published in updated form here as a part of the "oldies but goodies" series.



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Comments 11 New Comment

Lola Audu
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate

Gary, this is a powerful statement: "I learned that leading is not a power trip."  The most effective leading is done by example and through serving in my opinion.  When one considers leadership in that light, it looses the false luster which serves only to enhance an ego trip.  Thanks for providing good insight in this discussion.

August 09, 2009 11:56 AM
Lola Audu
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate

Janice, Excellent points!  It is ironic that in a profession that places such a high premium on consumer disclosure, we sometimes err in our own communication with other professionals.  It's so easy to think that it doesn't really make a difference if we respond to a request for feedback on a showing, but it does.  It's about courtesy and communication.  

I hadn't considered the opposite which would be giving out too much information with the intention of confusing or blurring the issue.  That's also a misuse of information.

August 09, 2009 12:00 PM
Jim Valentine
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates

Sounds like a great book.  I like how your've adapted the message to real estate.  Your post is very true and establishes a great mindset.

August 10, 2009 08:26 AM
Judi K Barrett
Broker/Owner, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDAB
Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma

Lola, you are an excellent writer and you always have something to write!  I enjoyed reading this post and agree whole heartedly.

August 12, 2009 06:42 PM
Robert L. Brown
Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Michigan

Anything that is kept "in the dark" ie secrets will come to the light. It's only a question of when.

September 22, 2009 05:31 PM

Lola Audu

Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
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