My degrees are in communications, journalism, and psychology. Maybe that’s why this really jumps out at me. Or maybe it’s because I’m like everyone else. I like to be treated with respect and sincerity.
It goes along with Maya Angelo’s famous quote,
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
So true. This is important to remember with all interactions. In business however, it takes on an added dimension. If you make people feel important, valued, and respected … well, it’s the difference between growing your business effortlessly or spinning your wheels and not making progress.
Let me explain by way of an example.
You walk into a popcorn shop looking for a gift to send to your niece who is in the middle of college exams. It’s a motivational pick me up since you know she’s really anxious about one class in particular. She loves popcorn and it’s a “thing” between you. So it’s the perfect gift.
But you’re having trouble deciding on flavors … and you’re not sure about shipping. When will it get there? It’s going to a dorm so how will that work? Will it still be fresh?
You see the shop owner and she’s busy talking with a friend on the phone. You’re not even sure she knows you’re there until you make eye contact. “Oh good,” you think. “I can get my questions answered, place my order and be on the way. Surely she’s ending her phone call to help me.”
Another 10 minutes go by. She’s still talking! Now you’re insulted and angry. You have things to do and clearly your business isn’t important to her. You walk out the door never to return. And you will probably tell your friends about how poorly this store does business. It doesn’t even matter if the popcorn is delicious. The interaction has killed the sale.
Contrast this with a different scenario.
You walk into the shop and immediately smell fragrant popcorn and hear a new batch popping in the back. You’re welcomed by the owner who asks if you’d like a sample of the latest flavor … along with any other flavors you’d like to try.
“What brings you in today?” she asks.
You explain your intent and she answers all your questions. You place your order and decide to pick up a bag of the new flavor for your husband too. She completes the transaction and then gives you a small bag of your favorite flavor as well. On the house!
Not only did this business make a sale. You had a wonderful experience and will tell others about it. Your niece may even become a customer and tell her friends.
As we are beginning 2017, I thought I’d share with you some things I’ve noticed about how we treat each other. We may all be guilty of one of these from time to time. We live in a stressful fast paced world. That doesn’t make it right … but none of us is perfect.
However, being aware of these potential tendencies is the start to ensuring they don’t occur. So take this as a little reminder.
5 Checkpoints to Ensure Courtesy has a Place in Your Business
1. Don’t start with you
Do you know people who immediately begin an interaction telling you all about themselves? I mean the second they see you in person or right after you say hello on the phone? I know we all have agendas but diving right into them is a turnoff!
Before you interact with someone, stop. Take a moment to consider where they are in life. Did they just have a family wedding? A new business launch? What was the topic of your last interaction? Start with these things before you dive into your agenda. You’ll deepen your relationship and gain more business this way. I can promise you that!
2. Acknowledge gifts and kind gestures and say “Thank You”
Someone goes out of their way to help you out. You didn’t even ask them to.
Someone gives you a compliment about your outfit, your presentation, whatever.
Someone sends you a gift for your birthday, the holidays, or just because.
Say thank you. I know there’s been a debate about whether it’s proper etiquette to use hand written notes for a thank you. People say email or a text is too easy and not personal enough. Well, it seems like this has created an excuse to just eliminate the thank you entirely!
Please say thank you when these things happen regardless of what form it takes.
3. Don’t set people up for the extension
Here’s another person I bet you have in your life. They call supposedly to see how you’re doing … and then they need a favor. There is always an extension to the conversation that has to do with them. After a while you’re trained that whenever this person calls, it’s because they need something from you.
Make sure you don’t unconsciously become this type of person.
4. When you commit to something – do it!
Being true to your word is something many of our parents valued and taught us. What happened? It got lost along the way. Many people will verbalize a commitment either with no intention of following through, or at the last minute just decide they aren’t going to do it. Seriously? Do they not understand that their broken link in commitment possibly affects an entire chain of events?
Here lies an opportunity for all of us. Following through on your word is so infrequent these days that you can catapult your credibility when you are one who does what you say you will do. Remember, it’s okay to say no to things. But when you say yes, do it!
5. Be respectful of time
Time is one of our most valuable commodities. Everyone expects things fast. Immediate gratification, be it right or wrong is part of our culture. When you deal with the public, you have to recognize this to be so.
Being respectful means when you call someone on the phone, ask if they have time to talk. When you have a meeting, be prompt. If you say you need 10 minutes of their time … then it’s 10 minutes of their time unless they say they can extend the call or meeting.
Do I sound preachy here? I don’t mean to be. Well, yes I do! But I’m reminding myself here too. So take it for that and be mindful of these Courtesy Checkpoints. We all work too hard on our businesses to have communication issues like these bring us down.