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, or thankfully our worst fears come to fruition, and even when it seems as though they are the peaks and valleys are typically very brief. With a prompt return to regularly scheduled programming of a more constant and mundane reality.

It is said that we are each our own worst enemies.  Jumping to conclusions, judging situations with only half the facts—or perhaps just a small piece of a single fact—imagining entire stories about what’s going on in other people’s (i.e. clients) lives from the limited information and typically narrow perspective that we have on most things.

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 currently with another lender, one we know to be aggressive on retention. Dozens of hours have been invested with the client discussing the nuances of various products, various lenders, and demonstrating the advantage of working with an independent Broker. Discussion around an annual mortgage review, our acting as the clients fiduciary, their third-party advocate, providing lender options with superior product features, etc.

However, after all those hours you find yourself unable to reach the client, which of course can only mean one thing – you have been dumped!

Your calls are being ignored because the client just doesn’t know how to break up with you, clearly they have signed with another lender. You’ve seen this movie before, you know exactly what is happening…you just know it.

You commiserate with a few coworkers, who ‘helpfully’ share stories of similar experiences of client’s lost in the 11th hour. This reinforces your beliefs, gossip and the distorted memories of others reinforces your beliefs, pure speculation – all of it. No actual direct communication with the client.

The days turn into weeks, and you’re pretty sure after two full weeks of no response that you know have lost them.

The messages you leave, the e-mails you send, they change in tone, from the happy helpful Broker who you once were, to a more deflated broker (with a small ‘b’) now resigned to having lost yet another client. Perhaps an air of frustration creeps into your tone. Perhaps in a fit of desperation you start negotiating with the clients answering machine, suggesting to the clients that suddenly you’re able to get a better rate, cover legal fees, help them move, maybe even come by and wash their car. All in an effort to generate a response, any response…please respond. please.

You give away the farm as you negotiate with ghosts. Never having a direct conversation, 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 has happened? These clients were so great, you even met in person and it was a great meeting. All you need is one last set of signatures to wrap up the file and yet… all has gone dark. Enter your 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.
  • I wrote emails that were too abrupt (you are re-reading them all now, through a tinted lens).
  • I wrote emails that were too long, gave them too many choices and too much data….confused them. Curse my wordiness.
  • 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 text here]
  • I…

All a very creative narrative running wildly through your mind (I,I,I,I…) that has little if anything to do with the reality of the situation.

The reality:

The client, (not the ‘I’), went away camping for a few days, came home to a hacked Hotmail account and closed it without thinking to notify their Mortgage Broker; also they dropped their cell phone in the lake while fishing. They got busy with a few different life events 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.

Thank you!

Dustan Woodhouse