Trust Your Intuition

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In January 2001, Mike Emert, a Bellevue-based real estate broker was brutally killed by a client at a vacant home he was representing. Mike’s tragic death inspired the formation of the Washington State Real Estate Safety Council. This Council was made up of REALTORS®, law enforcement and the Department of Licensing. The council produced a video, a printed safety guide, posters and protocol to help keep Brokers safe on the job. This program inspired the National Association of REALTORS® to create a national safety program that hosts safety tips from around the world. Every office should have a safety program and you can access resources from to help you draft that program.

Trust Your Instincts

One of the most important safety tools you can develop is to trust your instincts. Intuition is our most critical self-defense mechanism and it is always right on two major fronts: It is in response to a real experience, and it always has our best interests at heart. A student in one of my safety classes relates a story of sexual assault where a client exposed himself to her at a condo showing. “It was weird…when we first shook hands, he sniffed me and said I smelled nice. I took notice of that but dismissed it as someone being socially awkward. In one of the condos I showed him, he grazed by my bottom while we checked out the view from a condo window. I moved away to a different window, but he came up right behind me—way too close. I knew better, but I kept giving him the benefit of the doubt until I could no longer ignore my intuition.”

Trusting Intuition is a Common Challenge

We are advised to trust the soft warning voice inside our heads. But how do we trust a feeling that might not feel completely logical? And are we willing to risk personal embarrassment, possibly losing a client, or worse if we’re wrong? So, despite a list of intuitive cues, we tend to wait until we’re 100% certain before acting. Of course, waiting until we have absolute proof of trouble usually puts us in the terrible place of already being in trouble.

The Best Policy?

Engage the target of your intuition to vet your concerns. In my friend’s case, she could have spoken up about his comments and his physical proximity. She could have said something like, “I’m a bit claustrophobic and am uncomfortable being too close to people.” His response to a fairly gentle statement might have offered clues to his intent without causing any embarrassment. He may have apologized and kept his distance. Or, he may have disregarded and disrespected her further—letting her know that her intuitive instincts were correct. In either case, it would have provided additional information to assess her next steps.

Learn to listen, and honor that intuition voice. Practice ways to gently engage people to sharpen your intuition and vet your predictions. As I teach each of my self-defense students, trusting your gut may save your life.



Amit Z. Baruch

Amit Z. Baruch has 20 years of experience as a mortgage lender and is a self-defense instructor. He blends these two facets of his life to teach clock-hour classes and self-defense seminars to real estate brokers. Learn more about Amit at

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