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Reading Time:

5 minutes

Published:

04 June 2003

Getting Personal

Do you have to make it all so personal?!?

I appreciate and admire what you are trying to do and what you are achieving in the real estate industry. I think we all can agree that the real estate industry is overdue for some drastic changes. You always seem to have the courage to say what other people are thinking but are perhaps too afraid to say. For this, I respect you .

What I don’t understand Neil, is simply this: Why do you have to make everything so personal???

I’ve just read your June update and quite frankly, your comments tell me more about the type of man you are than they inform me of the point you are trying to make. I feel that you are making a very valid point and unfortunately for me (and who knows how many other readers) I find that this is quite often lost in the personal angle that you wind into some of your stories. It’s almost as if these people have ripped you off personally.

An unethical person may be everything you say and more but if it wasn’t that person, it would be someone else. I think your cause would be better served if the behaviour is attacked rather than the person demonstrating the behaviour. That way, the argument being brought against the behaviour will have more objectivity and (I think) more power in the ears of regulators, politicians etc.

When things get personal, they tend to get messy. We learnt this in pre-school but too often we forget. I personally would love to see you to take the high road in your stand against these unsavoury dealings and practices in the real estate industry, but it takes a stronger spirit, and few men have it.

I feel that you will be judged by your audience not only by what you stand for (or against) but also the way you stand.

Thanks for your time

RESPONSE

Thanks for your message. I can feel that your comments are most sincere.

The reason it is personal is because persons are involved. These are not statistics or faceless consumers, they are real people.

For almost ten years, I tried to improve the real estate industry without naming names – and all to no avail. The critics (and there will always be critics) said, “He won’t name anyone.” Or, “It’s all unsubstantiated.” Now that it is substantiated, great progress is being made. More has been achieved in the past two years than in the past 50 years, in so far as new laws and consumer awareness is concerned. But much more is needed.

Real estate consumers are the least protected people in the country. And yet, property is the biggest business in the country. It is shameful that the basic rights which are available to consumers at a grocery store or a service station either do not exist in real estate or are not enforced.

Ethics is a wonderfully interesting topic. I read a book called Profit Without Honor where I learned that one of the most effective ways of stopping white-collar crime was ‘name and shame’.

Yes, if it wasn’t one person, I agree it would be another; but then I would name that one too. If the person I name offers restitution and agrees to stop harming other consumers then I will agree to stop naming them.

The threats to me are often enormous. It’s like a bad dream. So far, none has gone anywhere, at least in the legal sense. There are some threatening me legally now and I hope very much that they go on with their threatened actions because a magistrate will then have to consider the evidence.

I assure you that what I say publicly about anyone is very much LESS than what I know.

The point in your message that was, to me, the most valid was the one about feeling that they had ripped me off personally. Yes, that’s how I feel. And that, by the way, is the essence of ethics. Compassion – which literally means feeling with others.

I cannot bear to see what is happening to so many decent, trusting and naive people. I am quite sure that if you could see the people themselves, see their faces, hear their stories and see their pain, that you too would feel the same way I feel.

Anyway, as I said, I do very much appreciate you writing to me.

Best wishes

Neil

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Please let us know what you think about this issue of naming those who harm consumers? E-mail Neil Jenman.

If you wish to send a question or comment to Neil Jenman you are most
welcome. Neil tries to read every e-mail and respond personally. We have posted some of the common questions
together with those we feel may help you. Thank you for your interest.
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