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Social distancing — no; physical distancing — yes

16 April 2020 Mark Armstrong
Mark Armstrong

Agents should aim to be closer to sellers in a time of social distancing, writes Mark Armstrong.

Great agents are wonderful relationship builders. Their ability to thrive in social settings is one of their greatest assets, so now is not the time to practise social distancing. Now is the time to focus on building social connections.

Don’t get us wrong: We think the distancing laws are 100 per cent correct and everyone in the community should stay physically isolated to stop the coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading. However, physical distancing is very different from social distancing, and it seems that people are also being more emotionally isolated and distant as a result.

What is social distancing? The term, in our opinion, is confusing as all definitions describe it as physical distance. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has even shifted to recommending the term “physical distance” instead of social distancing. Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services now also uses the term “physical distancing” rather than social distancing, in line with expert advice to change the terminology.


There are many ways to maintain a social and emotional connection while practising physical distancing. When we go to the shop or out to walk the dog, we can still be social. While remaining at least 1.5 metres apart, we can still make eye contact and say hello to people in our community. We can take the time to write someone a letter to send through the snail mail or provide support to someone in our community who may be struggling.

And don’t forget we still have the trusty old phone — but sorry to say, in this new world, the phone “just ain’t gonna” cut it anymore.

The research is clear: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Only 7 per cent of communication is verbal while 93 per cent is non-verbal. More than half of all communication is based on body language.

Given these facts, agents must embrace virtual/video conferencing technology to maintain their communication and build trust with their customers. If anything, becoming more emotionally connected with vendors.

The reality is video or virtual meetings are here to stay and will become the preferred method of communicating long after the COVID-19 threat passes.

RateMyAgent’s preferred platform is Zoom. Its base-level service (which is more than enough for most of us) is free and has many advantages over other conferencing software.

RateMyAgent is here to help as you navigate this “new normal” world with the launch of our free weekly webinar. The Espresso Series are short 15-minute educational sessions to help you learn practical skills so you can thrive in a changing environment.

Details on how to watch the webinar will be shared via ratemyagent.com.au.

Mark Armstrong is the CEO and co-founder of RateMyAgent.

Social distancing — no; physical distancing — yes
Mark Armstrong reb
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