Only One of Us Wants to Downsize


This situation is more common than you might suspect. Here are some suggestions on how to deal with it.
If this topic looks interesting, you are probably in one of these three roles:
* The person who wants to downsize
* The person who doesn’t want to downsize
* A family member or advisor wanting to help in this situation

Regardless of which role you are playing, there are three important steps that are essential for progress.
1. Understanding each person’s viewpoint
2. Suggesting various options to resolve the situation.
3. Negotiating a resolution

1. Understanding each person’s viewpoint
One of most effective ways of making progress is to ask open-ended questions of all persons who are affected by a downsizing decision. Where possible, it is best to avoid “Why” questions since they usually evoke a defensive response and tightly held positions. (See the article on “Why“.) Try an alternate approach such as: “What’s important about downsizing to you?” or for the reverse wording: “What’s important about staying here to you?” This approach can be taken up to seven levels with an experienced interviewer. This should be done in the presence of all parties who are affected in order for everyone involved to appreciate the impact of such a change.

In addition to understanding what’s important to everyone involved, it is important to know if the person who is resistant to downsizing is merely concerned with the timing. That is, they are actually willing to downsize at some time in the future but are not willing to do so at this time. (We were in that situation ourselves. My wife wanted to downsize “now” and I wanted to downsize “later”.) See the article on “When“. A helpful question to ask of the person who wants to delay downsizing is: “What would have to happen before you would feel comfortable downsizing?” or “What do you see as the biggest benefit or drawback to this move?”

If timing is not the issue and the resistant person just doesn’t want to downsize at all, questions that go a little deeper may reveal some issues that are not obvious. As Steven Covey said, “seek first to understand”. Here’s a useful question: “What’s your biggest fear or concern about downsizing?” or “If you ever did downsize, where would you start?” (This question gets them to verbalize what they are actually willing to do in the process.)

2. Suggesting various options to resolve the situation.
The options available will be the natural result of the discovery process in step 1.
getting additional help with the process. This may be in the form of:
* getting help with your stuff, your home maintenance workload, personal care, organization, or cleaning/decluttering.
* delaying downsizing in order for everyone can properly prepare for it.
* modifying the current home to permit living there. This is especially true if there are mobility issues to address.
* choosing a more appropriate property type for the next home. One of the reasons for resistance to downsizing is that the property type intended for the next home might not be a fit for the resistant person. (See “Where” to downsize.)

3. Negotiating a resolution
If you have successfully explored steps 1 and 2 above, the resolution to the impasse may be obvious. If not, further questions and discussion should be helpful in moving ahead. Here are a few to ask: “What would happen if you did downsize?”. “If your best friend was in this situation and asked you for advice, what advice would you give?” This question causes the person to momentarily “step out of their shoes” and adopt an impartial point of view.

Another approach is to go through the above process in stages with a time gap between each stage. This allows everyone to digest what they have heard in order to have time to consider it. This may result in a change in attitude toward the situation. You may end up with a compromise solution such as a modified downsizing scheduled which makes everyone happy.

What’s your situation?

Find out how to keep in touch with Downsizing Help by clicking on Subscription Choices in the top menu bar. A new post is released every Sunday at 2 p.m. EST.

Unless otherwise credited, all posts are happily authored in quill & pen by …
Paul Ferri, Broker
RE/MAX Unique Inc. Brokerage*
Toronto, Canada
*Each office independently owned and operated

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