Anyone in business will tell you that it isn't easy. There are costs and bills to be concerned about, employees to coach and support, paperwork from and for everyone that always seems to be looming, fourteen hours days, space to be maintained, computers that need to be updated, mail, phone calls, and well, you get the idea.
Over the last three business days I have, personally, been accused of being a "predator" while making a sales call in person (that a client recommended to me), accused of misleading someone when they received a quote for website development and for lying about that quote. When you run a business you expect to hear "no" but what has been so disappointing to me was the clear determination to say "No" in a such a rude and hateful way. Even calling me on the phone to accuse me of improper professional behaviour, properly.
As business owners we are expected to have tough skins, keen analytical minds and a laser sharp focus on the bottom line. We are expected to take hateful behaviour on as "part of the gig" and just "blow them off" because society has somehow carved out the role of business ownership only for people who are money hungry and fierce. But, what about the rest of us who run businesses simply because we love our work and enjoy our industry? Are we destined to make teary-eyed phone calls to friends concerned the professional reputation we are working so hard to build is now in jeopardy because someone in our community misunderstood a quote? No. Maybe. And by the way, thank you for answering your phone Kimberly.
Am I whining about someone being mean to me? No. (OK, fine, maybe a teensy bit) I am, however, feeling a great sense of responsibility for people who work for me. As I send my Sale Representatives out in the world to conduct business on behalf of my company, how do I prepare them for this inevitability? What does my coaching, support and preparation sound like? Although I have not decided 100% on what that looks or sounds like yet, the one thing I will be sure to impress on them is that they will never, ever, have to listen to, or tolerate, anyone being rude to them. I'm also going to ask them to call me immediately for a debrief when this happens and then we will add that business and/or person to a list of "No thank you". The list name meaning that the words "No thank you" would have been quite sufficient and, "No thank you, we at Rairdan Services, Inc. don't care to ever work with you in the future".
It seems important as we go into the holiday season that we remember that everyone who is waiting on you, talking to you at a counter, answering your phone call, helping you find things in a store, making your coffee, wrapping a present for you is at work and should be treated kindly and (dare I say?) professionally. People in service of others are almost always doing the best they can do for you, with what they have, in the moment they are in. If you aren't happy, say something, but, please be kind. And then, also importantly, listen to an explanation or a resolution. If your tempted to be rude and snarky please remember that "No thank you" is easy to say, costs nothing and keeps you off the naughty list. And my list too for whatever that's worth.
Thank you very much and Happy Holidays to all,