October 12

Will and Marcella Oakley on Highly Effective Communications


The Oakley Group is a Northern Virginia based Real Estate team with RE/MAX Distinctive. We work diligently to exceed our clients expectations! The Oakley Group works by referral. This means that our client’s satisfaction is our top priority. We work dynamically, as a team, to bring our clients the best service with the highest degree of loyalty and professionalism with an intimate knowledge of the market. 

We have a team of highly trained negotiators specialising in a very personalised real estate experience in Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. We work with home sellers, buyers & investors. This team has a unique experience that has translated well into real estate negotiations. Their past specialties as Detectives and a hostage negotiator has given them very specific training in negotiations which has served their clients well in the private sector. They have parlayed these skills to create a top producing real estate team. We have a special program for First Responders and Military.

Specialties: Buyers, Sellers, Investment, Luxury

Neighborhoods of Focus: Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Great Falls

Office Address:

1307 Dolly Madison Blvd.   and    218 N. Lee Street 324-325
McLean VA 22101                          Alexandria VA, 22314
(703) 821-1840                              (703) 801-6141

Contact Will and Marcella:

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. This is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster. Get ready for another episode.

Umar Hameed 0:36
Hello everyone. Today I'm a little nervous because I'm talking to to interrogators. Actually, I've got the privilege today to talk to Will and Marcella, they run the Oakley Group, they are realtors, and they used to be investigators and hostage negotiators, both of you. Welcome to the program.

Will and Marcella Oakley 0:53
Thank you.

Will Oakley 0:54
Thank you very much. We're glad to be here.

Umar Hameed 0:56
So the reason I'm really excited to talk to you is, as investigators, you see the world in a slightly different way. And you're really looking at being cops. And this is just my hypothesis is all about relationships. I was talking to a straight state trooper, I was up at some event, and he was really nervous pacing back and forth. And that's kind of odd to see a cop doing that. So I go over to him and say, "Are you going on stage next," he goes, "Yup." As we were chatting, he was saying that, you know, "Hey, when he went to interrogate someone, he went to no matter how bad that person was to build a relationship. And he said, as soon as I built the relationship, it just opened up whatever they wanted to say." So welcome to the program. And tell me about what made you decide to go into law enforcement

Will Oakley 1:42
Oh going into law enforcement was it just kind of happened, started off, we both started off in the sheriff's office and progressed into patrol and then finally into detective world and hostage negotiation.

Umar Hameed 2:04
So on Marcella, so you were a sheriff and you had an idea of what negotiator was, well, did you find was in alignment with your thoughts? And what was surprising when you actually ended up doing the job?

Marcella Oakley 2:16
The hostage negotiation part?

Umar Hameed 2:18

Marcella Oakley 2:19
So I actually didn't start as a hostage negotiator until I was a detective. It was some time after becoming a police officer. And I realized very quickly, that, um, the core to human behavior is understanding where people are coming from and their perception and listening. And I realized quickly that if I adhered to the tools given to me that allowed me to do that, that I would get, I'd become successful in my negotiations and in with my victims and victims that I dealt with, and then also, any suspects that we dealt with as well. And hostage negotiations allowed. There's something about being able to do that, and then getting being taught more tools. And that...

Umar Hameed 3:08

Marcella Oakley 3:08
...has allowed me to become even more successful as a detective but then also gain experience in the hostage negotiation while but I'm, I'm really grateful for I had a wonderful mentor.

Umar Hameed 3:18
Brilliant. And what about you, Will, what was surprising when you became a detective?

Will Oakley 3:22
It was a different world. It wasn't the there was a lot of variety in the patrol world and the detective world you specialized a little bit more. You, you honed your skills, mainly your communication skills. People start building their perceptions of you the very second they see you.

Umar Hameed 3:47

Will Oakley 3:47
And it could be from how you wear your your clothes, your suit, your uniform, whatever the case is, to how you interact with somebody. And the there were some very surprising times when I've always worked to treat people, right, and treat us with respect. And as Marcella was saying, listen to their perspective, and it paid off in the working because I would have people say, I'm not going to talk to that officer, but I'll talk to this detective, because he treated me right in jail. So there are it came back to you if you treated him right.

Umar Hameed 4:32
Brilliant. I was the state trooper I'm not sure that was his rank, I'm sure he was a lieutenant or something more fancier. But the one thing he said it was he would look at the suspect through that one way glass and then go home and get changed. And if it was a banker wearing a suit, he'd come into that meeting wearing a suit and if it was a trucker, he would wear jeans and boots and he actually went to that little extra effort to connect and the reason I brought this up a very interesting background, but b we get so sophisticated in what we do, whether it's Real Estate or brain surgery or whatever, and we lose sight of that human connection and going to brain surgeons, a turns out that if you're a doctor and you have really good bedside manner, you don't get sued, even if you're atrocious, and it's like, Where's my watch? Wait a minute, as in, it's still inside the patient, but and you can have a doctor, that's fabulous. That, you know, technically is an expert. But if they don't have a good bedside manner, they get sued because people don't feel like connection. So you're taking this skill set, and you've brought it into real estate? How did you find that it was helpful in connecting with potential clients as they became customers, and also negotiating deals?

Marcella Oakley 5:39
Sure. So our business model is truly based on a referral system, where we are building trust with our clients, and we have put ourselves in a position of advocacy for them. And understanding what the needs of your client or the you know, the other agent on the other side, and their clients are, really do help with the negotiations. And you may miss so much if you don't listen. So it's really important to slow down and, and adhere to some of the skills that we learned as detectives, to understand and listen to what's really happening in the negotiation.

Umar Hameed 6:18
Brilliant. So it's a cliche to listen. So what techniques did you learn to actually allowed you to listen more effectively?

Will Oakley 6:25
There are, there are several techniques and law enforcement you use read techniques technique, you use a kinesis interviewing technique, which is a likely...

Umar Hameed 6:36
Could you break those down so for the listeners, like what that might be>

Will Oakley 6:39
Um, for instance, kinesis interviewing is you when people tell their stories.

Umar Hameed 6:46
Mm hmm.

Will Oakley 6:46
Their body language will tell what actually happened,

Umar Hameed 6:51

Will Oakley 6:51
while their words don't always do that, it's like asking that you ask a five year old, did you take the cookie out of the cookie jar? And they're [garbled] Yeah. That's kinetic interviewing.

Umar Hameed 7:06

Will Oakley 7:08
To a very basic, basic sense.

Umar Hameed 7:11
So what they're saying and their body language, if it's out of alignment, you know, something's wrong, you're not sure what it is. But you can probe to figure out what the disconnect is, would that be a correct assessment?

Will Oakley 7:21
That would be correct assessment now, and real estate, we're not dealing with clients that are lying to us, like we did in law enforcement, we're dealing with clients who don't always communicate with each other as to what they want, and don't necessarily communicate to us what they want. So we work with them, to listen to them, to help them along their path.

Umar Hameed 7:53
What I find sometimes is that people also lie to themselves. And I'll give you an example is like, and I really have to have this and as you chat with them, Why do you want to have this? And sometimes the answer is, I don't know. I just thought and so just by asking questions, and connecting and listening, sometimes you can give them the epiphany they want so they actually get clarity on what they're thinking. You guys find that?

Marcella Oakley 8:14
Yes, yes, I think there. So there are different tools that you can use to help you work through why someone is thinking feeling or thinking what they are doing. And especially nowadays, when we do a lot of communication via email, text message over the phone, and now in zoom and in person when we can, I think it's important to ask the questions to dig deeper, and allow them to communicate even more with you, because you'll learn so much more if you just allow them to, if you just dig deeper.

Umar Hameed 8:48
What's kind of interesting is, you know, I'm sure I'm gonna send you some text messages, and some of them are going to be you want to do what and just know it's autocorrect. And I wasn't paying much attention. The reason I bring it up, by the way, have you ever come across? Damn you autocorrect is a website?

Will and Marcella Oakley 9:04

Umar Hameed 9:04
Funniest ever. It was like one of the texts from there was a guy who was coming out of the clinic as his mom had, you know, texted him, you know, Hi, honey, and he wrote back and I just coming out of a clinic. But autocorrect said, I'm coming out of the closet. Mom responds back, honey, you're dead. I always suspected we'd love you anyway. And he's like, What? But the reason I mentioned that is a lot of teenagers spend a lot of time stressing about what they're about to type in their tax, because they want to make sure that it gets communicated clearly. And there's so much opportunity not to communicate clearly just in the written word. Whereas like you said, when I'm speaking you can see my body language and go, what he said and what is looking like really light and airy. So he did he's not being mean, and it came out mean and it's like, Hey, what's going on, whereas on a text, we don't have that luxury. It's just the words that are written.

Marcella Oakley 9:57
Yes, it's also not to add to that I think, especially in a world, right, that we're living in right now, where there are other factors, there are a lot of other things that are happening that don't typically happen, that could affect someone's mood or what they're dealing with, it's important to, to just learn more about where they're coming from and why.

Will Oakley 10:16
But let me also bring this a little bit under perspective, we talked about talking to a client and finding...

Umar Hameed 10:22

Will Oakley 10:23
...as they want, but on the other side, we deal with two sides of a transaction. When we have a buyer client,

Umar Hameed 10:30

Will Oakley 10:30
we want to find out what the seller wants. This is negotiation. What does the seller need, so that we can successfully win this contract? And, and that is, that is a big part of what we do and the negotiation. And from the second, we pick up the phone talking to the sellers agent, we are gathering information.

Umar Hameed 10:56
What's interesting is I was actually eavesdropping on a realtor conversation with one of his clients. And what the realtor was trying to communicate was, it doesn't matter how much rebate you're giving back to the buyer, what matters is what's the net you take away. Right. But he didn't address that right up front in the conversation, he had a 15 minute conversation near the end is where he brought it up purposefully. Because when he brought it up too soon in the conversation, the client wouldn't have heard it, and they let them vent and get worked up about it. And then they finally went down, they then said, you know, you're still gonna walk away with $300,000 cash that you can use to buy a house in California. And I thought that was really interesting and masterful the way he did it. Because I would be the one I know the answer. Right away. So how do you manage expectations because you know what the situation is, but sometimes you can reveal it immediately because you want them to get it. So how do you gauge that?

Will Oakley 11:51
Generally? A good solid onboarding with our clients?

Umar Hameed 11:56
Did you say waterboarding?

Will Oakley 11:58
Yeah, waterboarding, yeah, that's

Umar Hameed 12:00
That will be more effective, yes.

Will Oakley 12:03
That's for confession. No onboarding, when we're, we're we're bringing a client in, we tell them what to expect. We we educate them about the process and how things work and...

Umar Hameed 12:20
So set the expectations of what's going to happen.

Will Oakley 12:23
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. expectations have to be known. And,

Marcella Oakley 12:31
Sorry about that. I apologize.

Will Oakley 12:33
and they have to be very clear.

Umar Hameed 12:36
So how do you handle this, I find a lot of realtors don't do this, well, it's, hey, when we get to this stage, you're gonna freak out, all our clients do, but don't freak out. Because this is what's going to happen next. And it's almost giving them permission to do that, and really expect it because you know, these are the things that have to happen. But we don't talk about their emotional responses, you guys kind of get into that? as you're setting expectations?

Will Oakley 13:00

Umar Hameed 13:01

Will Oakley 13:02
We tell them that, hey, this part is going to be stressful, it's going to be hard to be out of your house while people are traipsing through your home for a weekend. And yes, and then when somebody gives you an offer, you're going to feel like another offer may be better, you know. So we've set those expectations.

Umar Hameed 13:25

Marcella Oakley 13:26
And if you ask people what they're concerned about, they'll tell you, and a lot of times they're going to articulate that without you needing to bring it up, they're gonna they're usually aware of it and will articulate those stresses beforehand.

Umar Hameed 13:41
Just something you said there is so important, you know, ask, cuz maybe nine real estate transactions, but if you'd like take a look at family dynamics, oftentimes, you know, Aunt Betty is gonna see it this way. See it that way? And they were all making up stories rather than, say, and Betty, how are we gonna feel about this? And then you can have that conversation rather than assume?

Will Oakley 14:01
Well, it goes to our personal relationship too. If I assume she's thinking X, I'm going to be wrong every time by virtue of being male, but

Umar Hameed 14:12

Will Oakley 14:13
Don't want to assume that you have to ask. And if you don't ask, there's more of a chance of you being wrong and...

Marcella Oakley 14:22
But there's also something that happens when people articulate how they're feeling. They're able to deal with those emotions and and exhale, essentially, and so,

Umar Hameed 14:32

Marcella Oakley 14:33
really does help when you when you are able to allow whoever it is that you're talking to, to open up, essentially.

Umar Hameed 14:42
So one of my areas of expertise is applied neuroscience and neuro linguistics and we do this really powerful exercise where we get Marsala, think about this situation that you're really angry about or frustrated about, and you're not going to change your mind because that's who you are and You go, you have a death grip on it and say, Yes, I believe all dogs should be beaten or whatever that thing is. And then we have, let's say, 20 other people in the classroom, and people suggest different ways of looking at it, you're not allowed to respond back to them, just hear it, you don't have to agree with it. But what's really interesting is, after you hear 10, different viewpoints, some of them I agree with you some not that you're hold on that reality changes just by listening to it. And that's not even reacting. And people can actually go, Oh, my God, I was so certain that gravity exists. And now all of a sudden, I'm not as Sure. So it's kind of amazing. Just by doing that, just letting people vent out what they're thinking is enough to get them to relax about it a little bit. Because if you try and tell them, they're wrong, what happens is people grab onto it even tighter with a death grip. And if you just allow them to communicate, it opens up the world.

Marcella Oakley 15:51
And I'm more fascinated as to why they feel so strongly about it. That, to me is more fascinating than just the way they feel about it. Why are you feeling that strongly about it?

Umar Hameed 16:00
Yeah. So going back to negotiation, and you guys saw that movie? The negotiator, right? Yes. And so just that scene where at the beginning of the movie, he's negotiating between his daughter who's locked in the bathroom, and his wife, and he said, You know, that's the toughest part of the negotiation, forget about the other guys. But when you're negotiating with someone, let's say a client of yours, a client of yours is really, really steamed about what's happening with the buyers doing or what you're doing. From my worldview, if you respond in a calm voice to somebody that's really angry, that that's like throwing gasoline on the fire, that if you raise your voice, not to match theirs, but come up close, and still be you know, hey, I understand you, but instead of calm down, Marcella, we're here to help you and if you're like, really mad, is gonna make you much more angrier, "Marcella, I know this is important to you. So tell me what's," like, what are your thoughts on that? Should you kind of raise your voice and match them? Or should you be calm and and try and convince them?

Marcella Oakley 17:03
So there's actually you should there's a book written by Chris Voss with the black swan group.

Umar Hameed 17:10
I've read it.

Marcella Oakley 17:10
Well, have you read it?

Umar Hameed 17:12
I have. Negotiated as if your life depends on it.

Marcella Oakley 17:16
Yeah. Um, and there's, there's a part that talks about, I'm using your tone, to assist in a negotiation. And...

Umar Hameed 17:28
Really? Just kiding. The tone there. I was just being funny.

Will Oakley 17:34
[Garbled] too, specifically, is Chris Voss talks about the late night FM DJ voice, [garbled]

Umar Hameed 17:42

Will Oakley 17:43
Bringing them down to a calmer state.

Umar Hameed 17:48
So this is where I would disagree with Chris, although he's a master at it, that if you go into return something to a store, and they've wronged you several times, and you just simply inconvenient. If you are go in, they're really really angry, and they use that radio show voice, I guarantee 100%, 98% of people will freak out.

Will Oakley 18:08
That's because they get caught doing it, it's got to be to a certain level where it where it's not even notice.

Umar Hameed 18:18
So here's how you do it from my worldview. If I say someone's steamed and talking really, really loud, and really angry, you go up about 20% away from that 80% of their voice, say, Oh my god, you look really upset, what's going on and slowly start bringing your voice down. And it's human nature to go into rapport. And then they'll, oh, you're taking it seriously, because you're speaking loudly, and then they'll follow you down where you need to go. And if you get somebody that speaks really softly, Speak softly, and start increasing your volume, and they will follow you're about to say something, Marcella?

Marcella Oakley 18:50
So what I'm hearing you say is, you're using your tone to get to grab their attention and and,

Umar Hameed 18:55

Marcella Oakley 18:56
and then you're going to use your tone to allow them to...

Umar Hameed 19:01
Follow you?

Marcella Oakley 19:02
Follow, yeah, essentially so...

Umar Hameed 19:04
So in a sales situation, absolutely. In a sales situation, I might go into rapport with will. And we're just going to chatting about whatever we're chatting about, and I will be matching and mirroring Will. And when I think there's enough rapport, and Will's got his fingers like, pressed against each other, like a Doctor Evil, and then I would have been the same pose. And then I would just change my pose. And if will follows me, I know this trust, and we can move forward into sales compensation, but if I change my body posture, and will doesn't follow, then I know there's still a barrier in trust. So humans are fascinating. We are so hot wired to be in rapport with people. Sometimes when I have a workshop, I'll get people that have opposing views, somebody that says absolutely 100% abortion should be banned, no matter what the reason and they're not going to change that viewpoint. Then you get somebody that's totally the opposite. And I tell them to go into physical rapport, have a discussion around it, have an argument around it. is super hard for them to do that. Because you can't fight with somebody that's in rapport with you, then I get two people that think the Baltimore Ravens are the best team ever. And I say, have that conversation. But Marcella, I want you to have a different body posture than Will as you're having this conversation. And you might be like, this was not your arms will force themselves to go into rapport. Humans are fascinating.

Will Oakley 20:20
Well, if we sat in this conversation and had a scowl on her face the whole time, arms crossed, we were going to make you uncomfortable in this conversation, we're not going to have open dialogue.

Umar Hameed 20:32
Absolutely. And so what I would do in that case is hang up, no, what I would do for you is to go into that same body posture, and stay there for a little while, and then slowly start winding it out. So tell me, you guys are a small team right now? Are you looking to grow?

Will Oakley 20:52
Yes, we're always looking to improve in the market and have more presence in the market. And you do that through growth. We want the right people, though, we want people who can we train negotiations in our team, we train communication. And we don't want a team of 30 people, we still want a small team...

Umar Hameed 21:21
Like a nice 5-10 person team?

Marcella Oakley 21:24
Our mission, our mission statement to us is important. And so we definitely want to work with a team have a team that believes in the same things that we believe in has that has the same goals that we have, and that feels like we can grow together. So growing is definitely important. growing the right way is even more important to us.

Umar Hameed 21:45
Brilliant. Guys. It was a fascinating conversation and thanks so much for spending time with me.

Umar Hameed 21:51
Well, thank you. You're fascinating.

Will Oakley 21:52
Absolutely. Thank you.

Marcella Oakley 21:52
An honor. I appreciate it. We both do.

Will Oakley 21:55
We appreciate it. Thank you.

Umar Hameed 21:57

Umar Hameed 22:02
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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