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Recently Renee Jones asked other auctioneers if they wore sunglasses when bid calling [Do you wear sunglasses when you sell?] (and we ask otherwise when engaging a client or customer.) Diane Gottsman wrote an article in 2012 in which the best rule for auctioneers was noted as #1 on her list:

Remove your sunglasses when conducting business. Being able to look someone in the eye is an important part of communicating. Talking with someone whose eyes are hiding behind a pair of dark lenses hinders one of the key ways we read others emotions. If you’re lunching with a client outdoors, find a shady spot to sit and remove your sunglasses so that he or she can look directly into your eyes.

Here is a link to her entire article: http://dianegottsman.com/2012/05/sunglasses-etiquette-the-dos-and-donts/

For live bid calling, auctioneers often argue they “have to see,” and they sometimes can’t without sunglasses. However, the bidders have to see the auctioneer including where he or she is looking. Additionally, the eyes show emotion which is at the heart of persuasive selling.

Are there other options? Certainly. For one, plan for the direction of the sunlight at auction time and arrange property accordingly so neither the auctioneer nor the bidders are staring in that direction.

Alternately, hats, visors or the like can be used. Further, some sunglasses are more clear where the bidders might be able to see your eyes … but dark opaque sunglasses are not appropriate under any circumstances — anytime.

To quote Diane again …

When in doubt, take them off. The bottom line…Unless you are driving, working in the yard, lounging on the beach or doing something in the sun, professionally you’re creating a barrier between yourself and those around you. In conversation, people won’t be as easily able to listen to what you’re saying. Instead, they will wonder what your eyes are doing, what you’re really thinking about, what you are hiding – or perhaps what rock band you’re in.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.