The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The stories we tell ourselves are often out of alignment with reality.

Whether it is a tale of roses & rainbows or doom & gloom, rarely do our best dreams, or (thankfully) our worst nightmares come to fruition, and even when it seems as though they are doing so.

The peaks and valleys are typically very brief.

With a prompt return to the ‘regularly scheduled programming’ of a more constant and mundane reality.

It is often said that we are each our own worst enemies.  Jumping to conclusions, judging situations with only half the facts, imagining entire stories about what’s going on in other people’s (i.e. clients) lives based on limited information and a typically narrow perspective.

For a Mortgage Broker, an example would be the client who is not responding to emails and not returning phone calls.

Often it’s a client whose mortgage is currently held with another lender, a lender we know to be aggressive on retention.

Dozens of hours of our lives have been invested with the client discussing the nuances of various products, various lenders, and demonstrating the advantage of working with an independent Broker like ourselves.

Discussion around an annual mortgage review, our being the clients fiduciary representative, (their third-party advocate), providing options with superior features, etc.

However, after all those hours, in the final days, we find ourselves unable to reach the client, which of course can only mean one thing – we’ve been dumped!

Our calls are being ignored because the client just doesn’t know how to break up with us, clearly they’ve signed with their previous lender, another lender, or gasp… another Broker! We’ve seen this movie before, we know exactly what’s happening…we ‘know it’, we ‘ just know it’.

We commiserate with coworkers, who ‘helpfully’ share stories of similar experiences of client’s lost in the 11th hour. This reinforces our beliefs, as only inane gossip and the distorted memories of others can do so well, this pure speculation – all of it.

No actual direct communication with the client. We don’t need to hear from them, we just know!

The days turn into weeks, and we’re pretty sure after say two full weeks of no response that we have 100% lost them.

The messages we leave, the e-mails we send, they change in tone, from the happy helpful Broker we once were, to a more deflated sounding broker (with a small ‘b’) one resigned to having lost yet another client.

Perhaps an air of frustration, or worse still – bitterness – creeps into our tone.

Perhaps in a fit of desperation we start negotiating with the clients voicemail, suggesting that suddenly we’re able to get a better rate, or cover legal fees, or help them move, or maybe even come by and wash their car. Or maybe ALL of these things.

All in an effort to generate a response, any response…please respond. please… please…

We essentially give away the farm negotiating with a ghost. No direct conversations, not since emailing the approval documents blindly (always call ahead) weeks earlier.

Yes, a phone call is always better than an email with good news, just as with bad news.

The clock is counting down to the completion date.

What happened?

These clients were so great, we even met them in person, and it was a great meeting! All we need is one last set of signatures to wrap up the file and yet… all has gone dark. Enter our thought(s) for the day;

  • I know that they went back to their own bank
  • I annoyed them by not calling often enough through the process
  • I called them too often
  • My emails were too abrupt (we re-read each one over and over)
  • My emails were too long
  • I gave them too many choices and too much data, left them confused
  • I gave them too few choices, not enough data, left them confused
  • I trash-talked their current lender, or worse another Broker they were working with
  • I should have delivered the docs in person
  • I was too pushy, familiar, over-confident, under-confident, late, early…
  • I should’ve met them at their house, not made them drive to my office
  • I should have had them come to my office to see how professional and serious I am
  • I failed to [insert theory here]
  • I… I… I…

A wildly creative narrative running rampant through our mind (I,I,I,I…) one detached from the simple reality of the situation.

The reality:

The client went away camping for a few days, and returned home to a hacked Hotmail account they then closed down without thinking to notify their Mortgage Broker

Also, they dropped their cell phone in the lake while fishing on the first day. Then they got busy with a few different life events upon returning and finally called to say ‘Hey, everything all cool with our new mortgage, do we need to sign anything, it completes next week right?


The client was unaware that the lender had asked for that one last document to be signed all along.

The client signs & sends it instantly. File complete!

Here is a thought for the day:

Do not build a story in your mind. Breathe, and wait for the real story. Always give the client the benefit of the doubt.

If you convince yourself you have lost a file, the next thing you know, you will have.

Stick with positive energy!

Communicate, stay clam, stay cool, and have an excellent week(end).

Thank you!

Dustan Woodhouse