34PROFESSIONAL REPORT | SPRING EDITION 2015
my wife to help me remember
my deadline for this article; she asked what I was writing
an article about, to which I responded, "anything." "Write
about bananas" she said. "I can write about bananas if I can
somehow connect them to real estate, but I have not yet had
to deal with a banana farm," I explained.
It turns out, of course, that bad communication is the cause of
most conflicts, and I hadn't provided sufficient information.
Sure, an assumption could have been made by my wife that
the topic was real estate but, as I tell my team back in the
office, don't make assumptions about what others know or
think. There was no way my wife could have assumed I was
writing for SIOR, and maybe she was just being careful not
to assume it was about real estate.
I have witnessed all types of assumptions throughtout my
career. "Surely my client already knows this," is the classic
one. We all do this, assume someone knows something. Yet
communication is a two-way road made up of an assumptor
and an assumptee, and both have to provide information
to each other, because their roles will be inversed many
times within a single communication thread. Contributory
negligence will often lie within both sides.
I live, work, and was born in São Paulo, Brazil, where there
are 20 million inhabitants in the greater metropolitan area.
Sometimes I assume that people know that we have big
cities, sometimes I assume they think we live in a jungle, and
with how much they do know. I have no
expertise in banana farms or, for that matter, farms in general;
not to say I haven't dealt with farms, I have (I have even
been on a job 1800 miles north of here in the middle of the
Amazon, roughly where the equator cuts through, but that's
People make weird assumptions, sometimes posed as a
question, to sound less like an assumption and more like,
well, a question: "so you speak Spanish then?" Well, yes, I
do, a little, but our native tongue is Portuguese, Brasilia is
our capital city, Rio is indeed beautiful, and there are loads
of other beautiful places that are a must-see.
Straight answers to weird questions include: "No, leases
cannot be in English; how about in the U.S., can they be
in Portuguese?" Or, when a Russian broker asked me what
land was worth in Brazil, I answered, "Can you answer that
question about your own country?" (He must have assumed
Brazil was the size of the Vatican). I hear that it’s okay to be
blunt again once you reach the age of 50.
Speaking of beautiful, São Paulo city is not. It's lively,
big, and busy, more people live in apartments than houses.
Lots of sushi places (more than steak) and the best pizzas,
no argument there. The state of São Paulo accounts for
approximately one third of Brazil's GDP, and is therefore
bigger than Chile.
By Thomas Govier, SIOR, RICS