My wife and I currently live in a row home in Philadelphia and we have been thinking about moving out to the suburbs. Even though we both enjoy spending time downtown, we do not do it enough to want to pay the city wage taxes, especially since we both work on the outskirts of town. So every Sunday we pull up our real estate apps and sort through the open houses in hopes that one of them will be our dream home.

We typically pick homes based on the price, neighborhood, floor plan, and curb appeal; and we rarely ever look at more than two or three. Last Sunday, we found an open house that looked like it could be the one. So we got dressed and rushed over to the property. We were so excited as we approached the door. We walked into the house expecting roses, doves, and butterflies, and then it hit us.

The smell of mildew, cigarette smoke, pet odors, and left overs from two Thanksgivings ago filled the air. This beautiful home that we were so excited to see didn’t even manage to get five minutes of our time. We just couldn’t get over the smell. You could tell that the owners had tried to mask the odors, but it just made it worst. We wondered how much time, effort, and money they put into air-fresheners, candles, or plug-ins, instead of ripping up old carpet, fixing a water leak, or taking out the trash. No matter how large, exquisite, or updated a home is, if it has an unpleasant odor, it will be much harder to sell.

What do you smell like?

When was the last time you asked someone to give you the sniff test?

Now while having good hygiene is important, the sniff test is a metaphor for getting feedback. When you get so close or attached to who you are or who you think you are, sometimes referred to as the ego, it is often difficult to acknowledge your blind spots. Most of us have certain characteristics that are obvious to everyone but ourselves.

To find out if you have issues that need to be addressed, seek out feedback from a friend, mentor, or co-worker. A little hint that something may not be quite right is if you keep getting the same kinds of comments from different people.

Unlike the home we visited, if you discover during the feedback process that there are some things you can work on, then don’t try to mask them. Go after the source. It amazes me how hard people will work to avoid the extra effort required to permanently address the issue. There is an old saying that an arrogant person walks around as if their “stuff” doesn’t smell. Outkast, the Atlanta based rap duo, profited off of this saying with their hit song “Roses.” Do not fall into this trap of allowing your ego to tell you your stuff smells like roses.

Every home has a scent, but unless the owner gets feedback from someone who doesn’t live in it, they’ll never know whether it’s a deterrent to someone buying it. Passing the sniff test is not only a huge part of selling a home; it is a huge part of selling yourself.

Be on the look out for Conrod’s upcoming book.

What did you learn about yourself by asking someone to give you a sniff test?

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