The Power of Expectations with Malinda McGurk

What if you harnessed the power of expectations? Join Realtor and Sale Guru Malinda McGurk and I as we explore the importance of clear and explicit expectations.

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • The power of explicitly setting expectations
  • How expectations help, even in competitive environments
  • Why it is crucial to be clear — with yourself and others
  • Internal and external expectations
  • How clear expectations can eliminate stress

Featured Guest

Malinda McGurk

Realtor and Sale Guru

Malinda resides in Fresno California. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies. She is revered as a sales guru who has built an extensive business network. She is a successful real estate professional, sales trainer, mentor and sales manager. Client satisfaction is always her number one priority and is the foundation to why she is the number one sought after realtor and sales trainer in her area and beyond.

episode transcription

Heather Clark  00:01

Welcome to Unshakable Being, the podcast with inspiration and practical tools for purpose led leaders like you to relieve stress, build resilience, and unlock vitality in your life, body and business. I am Dr. Heather Clark, and I’ll be your host.


Heather Clark  00:19

Hello, and welcome to the show. Today we have on Melinda McGurk. She lives in Fresno, and she’s worked with multiple fortune 500 companies. She is revered as a sales guru who’s built an extensive business network. She’s a successful real estate professional sales trainer, mentor and sales manager. Malinda, welcome to the show.


Malinda McGurk  00:40

Thank you. I’m happy to be here.


Heather Clark  00:43

I’m glad to have you here. Because where we’re gonna start today, like we’ve talked about before is expectations. Can you tell us about the importance of expectations?


Malinda McGurk  00:55

Yes, well, I have a firm belief that if you can help set expectations, then any sales process, any situation at all will go much smoother, because both parties understand where you’re going. And so setting expectations early and often is my phrase. It just talks everyone understand what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, what to expect. And it just kind of helps settle.


Heather Clark  01:24

That I love that. So can you give us a tangible example of what it would sound like to actively set expectations with somebody?


Malinda McGurk  01:33

Sure. So if anyone’s been watching the news about Fresno, our real estate market is very aggressive right now, things are just flying off the shelf. And so you have to be very persistent if you’re a buyer. And so when I’m talking with my buyers, especially if they’re new to the process, I let them know, in this market, we need to have persistence. And we need to have stamina, because everything is so competitive. But that’s why you have me in your corner is to help you move through the process. And to be as competitive as possible. That sets them IDs to know we’re going to be multiple offers. And here we go.


Heather Clark  02:15

So it sounds like it’s just straight up point blank, telling people, this is what’s required. This is what’s going to happen. Here we go. There’s no subtlety about it. There’s no trying to craft a dislike, this is what it’s going to be like, here we go.


Malinda McGurk  02:32

With some people, they do more crafting that type of thing. That’s another thing I do right up front with my clients or potential clients is I express, I’m a very direct communicator. And if you don’t like that, you probably should find a different real estate agent.


Heather Clark  02:51

Yeah, it’s a feature not a bug. Enjoy. That’s. It’s also Exactly. And have you found that explicitly setting expectations helps more than just in the sales process?


Malinda McGurk  03:07

Yes. So I think human nature, we don’t like the unknown, and we don’t like the unexpected. And so the more you can frame, what’s gonna happen, then the less stress it takes away from the entire situation. And so as you keep setting expectations, and you keep letting them know, these are our stress points during a transaction, for example, then everyone can relax and say, okay, she said this was going to happen, and here it is.


Heather Clark  03:37

So that’s really helpful. It just helps remind people Oh, no, this is just one of those stress points I knew was coming. This isn’t something unexpected. This isn’t. Yeah. And that really can help mitigate the stress response. It sounds like, just if you know it’s common. Oh, and here we are. Right.


Malinda McGurk  03:55

And if you set expectations through all parts of your life, it can really help. So in the, in the morning, when you’re talking with your kids, this is what’s going to happen today, this is what you can expect, then everyone knows, okay, mom’s gonna be here, dad’s gonna be there, you know, whatever the scenario might be. And again, everyone’s on the same page and moving in the same direction. And it helps with stress that way, too.


Heather Clark  04:20

Yeah. Dad has a saying that kids and old men like to know what’s going to happen.


Malinda McGurk  04:27

Exactly. Exactly. So that I think I just allow me to know what’s going to happen.


Heather Clark  04:32

Yeah, that’s what I was telling us. Like, I really think that’s true for everybody. You don’t want somebody just Oh, and surprise. I’m going to be off doing something else today. When you were thinking, Oh, I thought we were going to do this other thing together. So it’s like, explicitly setting expectations really helps.


Malinda McGurk  04:49



Heather Clark  04:51

What kind of work do you do to help help set internal expectations for yourself?


Malinda McGurk  04:59

Ah, I have very high expectations. And that’s one of the key drivers for me in being successful in the different industries I’ve worked in, and continuing to push to keep growing and that type of thing. And so a lot of times when I have to step back and start asking questions, it’s like, Okay, why do you have this expectation? Is it valid? Is it real? Is it a two year expectation or a two month expectation? You know, different things like that?


Heather Clark  05:37

Okay, so that’s great. Can you tell us a little bit more about how asking questions of yourself and other people can help shift the stress in your life?


Malinda McGurk  05:48

From my perspective, next to setting expectations, asking questions is the second most important in almost anything, but especially in the sales process. And it will help you open up the other client, let them know that you care, because you’re asking about them, not just talking to them, etc.


Malinda McGurk  06:11

And it helps take the stress out of a sales cycle, because you’re actually working with them to find a solution versus just, you know, trying to push them in a certain direction that Oh, includes your product, or your service or whatever. And so asking questions is really key and learning how to ask them, and why you’re asking them is important, too. And so it, there’s been several times where I’ve, I think something is really important to a client.


Malinda McGurk  06:45

But then when I start asking the clarifying questions, they go, No, no, no, not that this was like, Oh, good thing, I didn’t just run with that and start selling because I would have been wrong. And as far as asking internal questions, that’s a little tougher. But by doing that, you learn yourself and you learn, and what’s important to you what your roadblocks are, you know, different things like that. When you’re feeling stress, it’s take a step back and say, Wow, why am I having this feeling? Where is this coming from? You know, just different things like that. So you can get a handle on, you know, something’s bothering you, or your hormones are going crazy, or you’re hungry, or whatever it happens to be.


Heather Clark  07:38

Yeah, I really, I appreciate that with the whole asking questions of yourself and understanding, well, what’s my intention here? Why do I want that? Because a lot of times, we think we want one thing. And that creates a lot of stress for us. And when you stop and question, oh, I actually didn’t want that I wanted this other result. I wanted, what I thought that would get me. And when you focus on what the actual motivation is, that often really helps lead you forward in a way that’s a lot more smooth with less stress.


Malinda McGurk  08:07

Well, and the important thing is, is to pay attention to the questions you’re asking yourself. So you don’t want to be saying why can’t I do this? Why can’t I? Why? Why? Instead, like you’re saying, come from the positive side of it. This is what I want. How do I get it? What do I have to do? What skill sets Do I have to learn to make this my reality?


Heather Clark  08:33

Yeah, and I would invite people to even eliminate the obligation from that, like, maybe there’s nothing you have to do or learn, but maybe simply the question of what would it take to get this desired result? Right, right. Yeah. Yeah. Beautiful. So tell us what’s your origin story? How did you come to be doing this in the world?


Malinda McGurk  08:55

Ah, So way back when I had a friend that was in sales. And at the time, I was answering the 911 lines for the police department.


Heather Clark  09:10

No stress at all.


Malinda McGurk  09:11

No. And I was 18. So I was the youngest person to ever be hired to do that. And, yeah, it was a unique experience, even though my dad was a policeman. Yeah, I didn’t realize just how protected I was. So I saw how hard I was working. And then I saw how hard they were working. It’s like, what am I doing wrong here, and they make a lot more money. And so I started the process of building my skill sets and moving towards sales because I didn’t have a college degree. So it was much more difficult to get into it. And so I just kept pushing. I interviewed with the same company for a year, and they finally went well. You’re more persistent than anyone else we’ve hired So come on, down. That’s how I started.


Heather Clark  10:04

Beautiful. And you interviewed with a real estate company or for your or what type of company? Were you looking to get into?


Malinda McGurk  10:11

Oh, well see my career started when I was 22. So that was a long time ago. And my first true sales job was selling computers in 1984, when no one knew what a computer was. That was my first sales job.


Heather Clark  10:32

Okay, that’s really interesting. So how do you begin to sell something that people don’t fully understand?


Malinda McGurk  10:40

Uh huh.


Malinda McGurk  10:41

Well, it was kind of interesting, because it’s kind of a conceptual sale, because they don’t really know what it does back then. But on the other hand, you had it in front of you. So it was kind of like, well, show me Show me Show me. But if anything went wrong, then it would scare them off. And so I learned my first sales lesson at that, at that company.


Malinda McGurk  11:10

And my because for some reason, I kept doing a lot of demonstrations. I got really good at it, but a lot of them. And the sales manager kept saying, stop demoing the equipment is like, they asked me to I’m not gonna say no. And he said, it’s something you’re saying, or you’re doing that setting their expectation.


Malinda McGurk  11:33

And so if you’re getting a different result from everyone else, and then it’s something you’re saying, or you’re doing that’s getting that different expectation. And so I’ve carried that through my sales career, and through management.


Malinda McGurk  11:48

And so when I’m listening to an agent saying, I’m doing this, I’m doing this, I’m doing this, it’s like, okay, let’s take a step back to really what you’re saying, really what you’re doing, because you’re not getting the results you need to. So that’s one of my first lessons.


Heather Clark  12:04

And is it? What’s your, what’s your especially with the demos? Was it something you were explicitly saying? Was it were you explicitly doing it? Or did you discover it was just an idea that they weren’t going to buy? But we’re going to run through this, this demo was an internal thing, or what did you discover at that point?


Malinda McGurk  12:20

So so many times, it’s not even anything we’re saying or doing, it’s more of our body language, or it’s more of our comfort level, our tone of voice. And so I realized that I was more or less, when I would talk, I would turn towards the system, instead of just keeping my back to the system and talking to them. And so it led them to believe that I’m ready to go right into the system. And so once I stopped doing that, then they they cut back on the expectation that I was going to show them how it worked.


Heather Clark  13:00

That’s interesting, where it’s, it sounds like it was more than just body language use, you stated it was about comfort level. So tell me more about how, first of all, how to increase the comfort level, especially in sales, but also beyond, and then what results that that can offer in sales and beyond.


Malinda McGurk  13:19

Okay, so for me, especially since I was doing so many demonstrations, I had to be comfortable with that. And then once if it didn’t react the way I wanted it to or the way it was supposed to, then it’s like, oh, I’m glad this happened. So watch this. See, there’s nothing to be afraid of everything can be you know, negotiated, or everything can be backed out, or whatever the scenario might be.


Malinda McGurk  13:44

And so I was comfortable showing it. And it made them comfortable going, Oh, if she can get out of it, I can get out of it. So being comfortable. So many of us, we are going back to asking questions. So many of us are not used to asking questions, and it can be uncomfortable, because some of them are quite straightforward, right? Well, what do you think about this? Why do you have this perception? How is this perception driving the whole sales process or your decision on what to do, etc.


Malinda McGurk  14:24

And the more comfortable we get, understanding, asking questions as part of our job and the best way for us to do our job and the best way to help our clients. Then the more we can ask those questions and dig really deep without being uncomfortable with it.


Heather Clark  14:47

Yet especially because in the Midwest, sometimes it’s considered rude to ask questions, but yeah, I do it anyway. Because it helps me It helps everybody else like you want to, but But yeah, certainly becoming calm. Trouble asking the questions and being comfortable with whatever response people have. Like some people are like, It’s none of your business like, Well, okay, then why are you here to …


Malinda McGurk  15:10



Heather Clark  15:10

Oh, that’s really hard to connect you with what serves you, but that’s fine. Okay, great.


Malinda McGurk  15:16

Yes. And sometimes when you hit those roadblocks, that’s when you go around and ask other questions. And so my husband’s from the Midwest, he’s from Nebraska. So I understand that no, this is our bubble, you will not intrude love You mean it? Right. And so you have to get used to coming at it maybe from an angle versus straight on. But still, you need the information, you need to understand the perception, the limits, etc, so that you can make that connection and help them understand you’re there for them, not the other way around, you know, things like that.


Heather Clark  16:05

We have that’s, that’s one of the greatest things about sales is it’s actually service when done correctly, it’s in service to you’re not something that they’re trying to manipulate or trying to do something to you it’s like, No, no, really, the salesperson is just trying to connect you with what you truly want. Yeah, to be easy. Yeah, yeah. Yes. Or at least the good salespeople?


Malinda McGurk  16:26

Yeah. Correct. I was gonna say there are the the manipulators out there that’s only in it for themselves. And they’re pretty easy to spot very quickly. It’s those that take the time to understand you understand your business, understand your goals, objectives, and then how to make it better, make it easier, whatever the case may be, whatever you’re looking at.


Heather Clark  16:52

So one thing to look out for is, if it’s a manipulator, they’re not seeking to first understand what are some of the other red flags for to be able to discern when somebody is attempting to manipulate you? Because we all kind of feel like we know, but it would sure be nice to explicitly say, Oh, it’s usually these things?


Malinda McGurk  17:10

Yes. Well, typically, it’s more about them than it is about you. So that’s the first red flag, if they’re going on and on and on and on about themselves and their company. And, you know, they’re trying to make connections where maybe there’s nothing there. That’s, that’s a red flag. If they start asking questions about you, and your desires, and your needs, and your company, that type of stuff, then that is good, right? And if you’re in a business environment, and they’re focusing too much on you personally, then that’s another sign where they might be more manipulating versus rapport building, you know, because they’re, they’re not there to be your friend, they’re there to help you run your business more effectively.


Heather Clark  18:03

So what do you mean by focusing more on you? like just trying to like buddy up? Or like, I don’t understand exactly what you mean?


Malinda McGurk  18:11

Well, all, all sales, people, quite honestly, are taught to build rapport. And they’re taught to build that initial connection. And that’s great. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, because we all want to feel comfortable with each other. But when, especially like on the first meeting, it’s taken too far. And it’s more about. So tell me about your ICU sale, tell me about your selling. Tell me about this. Tell me about your baseball, whatever. Too much of that just means they’re trying to become your buddy versus trying to become your salesperson. So that’s, yeah, that’s, it’s good to make a connection.


Heather Clark  18:56

How does that lead? How does that lead to manipulation, though?


Malinda McGurk  19:01

Well, it’s human nature to want to work with people that we connect with, right? And so. So from that perspective, we may give that person more credibility than they actually have. We may just assume they have our best interest in heart, when they’re really not asking the questions to have our best interest at heart. They’re just connecting on the buddy level.


Heather Clark  19:32

Does that make sense? Yeah, that makes sense. And it really sounds like what they’re doing. The people who are seeking to first manipulate is it’s almost like using how you’re wired against you, because most people are innately very nice and kind. And oh, I’d rather do business with so and so because I know them. Right. And because that personal relationship is formed so strongly, they perhaps aren’t discerning, but this isn’t the best choice for me. This isn’t the best choice for my business, right? And then there. I imagine that a lot of people are trying to avoid the discomfort of why didn’t buy from, you know, this my good networking buddy here.


Malinda McGurk  20:11

Right? Right. And so I would say most sales people, though don’t get up and say today I’m going to manipulate some people be weird, but I would say that most people, most salespeople are good people too. They just maybe aren’t taught the skill sets of how to do their job properly.


Heather Clark  20:42

I see. So it’s, perhaps it’s just a lack of a skill set to know, you know, first connect, but really get to what does this person want? Because what? I know that as a business person once I learned Oh, okay, a no is just as powerful as Yes. Correct. Yeah. And in fact, it was a lot more helpful, sometimes saved a lot of hassle.


Malinda McGurk  21:09

I used to I, when I was at Pitney Bowes, it was a very, very aggressive environment. And you need to get 10 to 15 people to say yes, and sign on the dotted line every single month, or you didn’t have a job. I mean, it was really aggressive. And very competitive. We had very strong competitors, and we were the most expensive. Oh, joy. And so you really, you really learned the sales process very quickly. And you also got to the point where it’s like, yes or no, I would say buy or die. That in my head that was it. It’s like, say yes, or no, but just make a decision. Because I don’t have time to play, right? We’re either going to be in the same sandbox, or I’m going to the next sandbox.


Heather Clark  22:04

For a lot of people first discern that perhaps that’s a little, that’s very aggressive. But really, it saves everybody a lot of time. If you don’t know, and you haven’t made your decision. Great. Is there information I can provide you to facilitate that decision? Is there something I can point to do like, Is it just going to take time for you to have clarity, let’s not stress each other out and stay in this active sales process? Just switch over to passive? There’s nothing wrong with that.


Malinda McGurk  22:33



Heather Clark  22:34

It’s like when I go to work with people, if you are not a solid? Yes, let’s wait until you are or you get a clear now because like, it’s just creates too much struggle and too much drama. Yeah, clear.


Malinda McGurk  22:47

And too much stress on both sides. And again, that was another point where I learned to set expectations. So Mr. client, this is what I’m gonna do, I’m going to come in, I’m going to analyze your business, I’m going to look at these five departments, I would love an introduction to them, so that they know I’m going to ask questions. I’m going to go in, I’m going to ask questions, I’m going to see where I can help. If I can help how I can help, then I’ll be a proposal back to you. And then you can decide what makes good business sense. Agreed. Agreed. Great.


Malinda McGurk  23:19

So he knew when I was coming back in, I expected a decision, right? Because I set the expectation.


Heather Clark  23:27

Yeah, and spent a fair amount of time and really gave some thought to what’s really going on here. And can I be of service? Because it’s really stressful to be in a situation where Oh, well, this isn’t actually my wheelhouse. Let’s figure that out beforehand, before we both get into it. And then that really that no opens up the space for the more powerful Yes, the great fit clients, where you’re just like every day is a dream. Right? It’s amazing.


Malinda McGurk  23:58

That’s right. That’s right.


Malinda McGurk  24:00

I’m a happy girl. Exactly.


Heather Clark  24:04

Yeah. And then, of course, that leads to a happy business when you’re choosing for you because again, this is a form of putting yourself ruthlessly and relentlessly first choosing what works for me. And and being very clear and setting expectations not just in sales calls, but really beyond.


Heather Clark  24:24

Right. Yeah.


Heather Clark  24:26

Beautiful. And then love it.


Heather Clark  24:28

So tell me what does it mean to you to be unshakable? unshakable?


Malinda McGurk  24:35

Oh my. So I have a very solid center as far as my self confidence is concerned. I’ve I can think quickly on my feet. I’m intelligent. This is all egotistically speaking right? I’m intelligent I can think quickly on my feet and I always have my clients best interests at heart. And so I don’t work for my health, I work for money. Everybody understands that. And I do my very, very best for everybody. if something isn’t going straight, I come right out and say it, I offer solutions, then they can decide what they want to do. To me that’s part of being unshakable is just knowing your value, and how you present it to others. And just, yeah, just being there, showing up.


Heather Clark  25:34

Yeah, knowing your value, clearly communicating it. And it sounds like letting people choose from they’re not like, Oh, you know, I really wish they would have like, no, must not have been fit. Moving on.


Malinda McGurk  25:46

Yeah, exactly. And it’s been pretty amazing. In my real estate career, is I’ve only had like, out of seven years, one, maybe two clients, where it was like, Oh, you’re not going to use me a second time. Okay.


Malinda McGurk  26:04

But everyone else has been, you know, just a joy to work with and a joy to be with and come to my Christmas party, you know, things like that. So, so I’ve been really blessed in that area.


Heather Clark  26:16

That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the show.


Malinda McGurk  26:21

It was my pleasure.


Heather Clark  26:24

Thanks so much for listening. I’d love to hear from you. Go to and submit your question, comment, or topic request. May you be unshakable, unstoppable, and vibrant again. Until next time.