People Work Harder For People They Like

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”
Ann Landers

In his new book, “30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves In The Foot,” Bill Lee says, “Buyers buy from people they like… I would even go so far as to say that people go out of their way NOT to do business with people that they DON’T like.”

I agree. I would even go so far as to say people work harder for people they like.

The Gallup organization confirmed that when they asked 8 million people to respond to this statement: “My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.” Gallup found that the people who agreed with the statement:

* were more likely to stay with the organization,
* had more engaged customers, and
* were more productive.

Unfortunately, some clients, customers, coworkers, and bosses don’t seem to care… or at the very least, they’re not all that pleasant to be with. That’s what Tom Rath reported in his book, “Vital Friends.”

Rath cited the Princeton study where people were asked to indicate their “overall enjoyment” when spending time with various types of individuals. Their most troubling discovery was finding out who was placed at the bottom of their “people-we-enjoy-being-with” list. Clients and customers were third from the bottom; coworkers were second to last, followed by bosses, who were dead last. In fact, interacting with the boss was rated as being less enjoyable than cleaning the house.

Of course, there are several building blocks you can use to strengthen your relationships on and off the job. But I’ve found four of them to be especially important: courtesy, consistency, friendliness, and sincerity. I’ve found that everyone knows about these four building blocks but very few actually live, breathe, and practice them.

Let’s talk about COURTESY today — because it’s the quickest and easiest way to lift yourself above the crowd. After all, so-called “common courtesy” has all but disappeared in some offices, customer service environments, and even some marriages.

So what is COURTESY? It’s being considerate of others in little things. It’s refusing a request gracefully — without the use of grunts, sarcasm, or harshness. It’s showing respect for the things others think are important — rather than minimizing their feelings or joking about their causes. It’s treating bores with patience, being eager to do a favor, or staying calm under pressure and provocation.

To get specific, to exhibit excellence in COURTESY, I recommend these three things.

=> 1. Say or write “Thanks.”

Yes, I know, you were taught to say “Thanks” when you were three years old. But I’m amazed at how many people never learned the lesson. It used to be, when you bought something in a store, the clerk would always thank you for your purchase. In today’s world, however, I’m finding that lots of clerks never bother to do that. In fact you may have to thank them for taking the time to wait on you. That’s just not right.

Paige Karno, one of my “Tuesday Tip” readers, said she’s noticed the same thing. She wrote: “I was traveling for work and was being asked for my beverage order on the plane. I said, ‘I would like tomato juice, please,’ and when she handed it to me, I said, ‘Thank you’ cheerfully. The flight attendant looked at me with a smile of appreciation and thanked me for thanking her.”

“I was a little confused and she could tell, so she told me how rare it was for someone to use the common courtesies on a plane trip. She rarely heard ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ in her role. Most people just sat reading, talking, or were quiet or impolite.”

“I was surprised and told her how sad I thought that was. She agreed and moved on with her work. By this point I was pretty curious if what she said was true, so I started listening to the people she was serving, and to my sad surprise, she was right.”

And does courtesy really make a difference? You bet! As Paige went on to say, “The reason customer service is lacking is because so much of society has lost focus on what is truly important, the common courtesies — ‘Please… Thank you… No thank you… and… Excuse me.’ Simple enough words, yet so few adults use them and even fewer kids. A company can preach and preach on customer service, but until individuals take responsibility for their own words and actions and understand the importance of polite, common courtesies, they will never understand and be able to provide enthusiastic customer service.”

Paige is right. And if you’re a salesperson, write out a thank-you note every time a prospect gives you an appointment or an order. Such notes are so rare among salespeople that you will set yourself apart… in an extremely positive way… by taking the time to send one.

=> 2. Put the other person’s interests above your own.

If you’re in business, don’t ever be so desperate for a sale that you would be willing to make a sale when it would be in your customer’s best interests to buy elsewhere. When your prospects or customers see you putting THEIR interests ahead of your own, they will like and respect you more. And that will lead to a stronger, longer-lasting relationship than any self-serving sale ever will.

That’s how I conduct my speaking business when a meeting planner calls me to discuss a possible speaking engagement for his/her company. I always ask the meeting planner lots of questions. I want to find out if my expertise and style are an excellent fit for that meeting. I want to know — in advance — that I can and will do an excellent job for them.

If I’m not the best speaker or right speaker for that engagement, I’ll decline the invitation. I’ll point the meeting planner towards someone else who would be better. To me, that’s the only courteous thing to do.

=> 3. Go out of your way to make the other person feel comfortable.

I’m sure you’ve gone to parties where no one talked to you. Or if they did, their comments were somewhat chilly and indifferent. They lacked common courtesy.

The same is true in some workplaces. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me you have some coworkers who fail to greet you when they pass in the hallway. And I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me you’ve been to staff meetings where no one sought out your opinion.

In each case you felt uncomfortable because the people failed to exhibit courtesy. It just DIDN’T FEEL GOOD — and yes, feelings count… even in the work world. As someone so aptly said:

“People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did… But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I think the story of Bill and the deacon illustrates the point very well… that you never forget how people make you feel. So here’s the story.

Bill became a Christian while attending college. He had wild hair, wore a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college.

One Sunday he decided to attend the church across the street from the campus. And the church wanted to develop a ministry to the students but weren’t sure how to go about it. After all, it was a well-dressed, very conservative church.

Not knowing any different, Bill walked into church wearing his jeans, his T-shirt, wild hair… and, of course, no shoes. The service had already started, so Bill started down the aisle looking for a seat. The church was completely packed, and he couldn’t find a seat.

By now, people were looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything. Bill just got closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realized there were no seats, he squatted down right on the carpet.

Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, this had never happened in the church before. By now the people were really uptight, and the tension in the air was thick.

About this time, the minister realized that from way at the back of the church, a deacon was slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the deacon was in his eighties, with silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly.

He walked with a cane, and, as he started walking toward the young man, everyone was saying to themselves that you couldn’t blame him for what he was about to do. How could you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?

It took a long time for the deacon to reach Bill. The church was utterly silent except for the clicking of the man’s cane. All eyes were focused on him. You could have heard a pin drop. And the minister couldn’t preach his sermon until the deacon did what he had to do.

And then they saw this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowered himself and sat down next to Bill and worshipped with him so he wouldn’t be alone. Everyone choked up with emotion.

When the minister gained control, he said, “What I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget.”

That’s the power of courtesy.

Action:  Would people describe you as courteous? All the time? Some of the time? With everyone? Or just certain people?