Dealing with a discourteous world
My brain went AWOL for eight days early one New Year and it wasn’t pleasant. Nor was the virus I had rampaging around the rest of my body.
On the eighth night at 10pm, it returned. It had a lot to tell me. It spoke in urgent tones for four hours. There was no shutting it up and the message was clear.
Life is precious. My brain said, ‘You must not in anyway deal any longer with dross’.
The baggage of regret unearthed by ingrates and their discourtesy is ‘inertia.’
Time to take up the cudgels against discourtesy in business, because I believe that no one should have to do business with another who doesn’t want to know, or worse chooses not to see an exchange of value.
Such behaviour is mischievous, driven by the need to pay little, less or even nothing.
Old fashioned as it might seem, courtesy remains the lynch pin of decent business behavior and transactions. It was once a normal way to conduct any value transaction.
The pace of our digital world – emails, mobiles, SMSs, an over supply of self promoting consultant specialists in every field, and a plethora of grudge purchases, —yes, I know I must have a website, safety review, exit strategy, marketing campaign and the rest— may have all contributed to its demise.
In its wake, what’s left is much more pervasive than a dose of the dreaded scarcity virus. It’s the equivalent of business Ebola. People languish in anxiety, depression and despair in its path and if they recover, the effects are long lasting and destructive.
Six steps to survive and prosper in a discourteous world
To survive and prosper you must immunise yourself against the virus. It’s not enough to inoculate yourself with your talent, experience and expertise.
Nothing you do will work to elevate you beyond the dross if you’re not super clear about why you do what you do and for whom.
Without that clarity, no matter how good you are at what you do, discourtesy will envelop and unpick you at the seams, because it speaks of a much greater problem. You are not where you should be, doing the work you should be doing.
Lose the delusion
‘If I ‘m honest, work hard and bring my talents and expertise to bear, the client will value me and pay me accordingly’.
No. They won’t. That is a delusion.
Without complete clarity around what you deliver in what timeframe and for what cost, they will come to distrust you and your offer.
Even if you’re creative and work in a field that is as hard to pin down as a forest full of feral cats, you must be an absolute stickler at defining the exact value and cost of the work you are going to do. Then review and update your progress consistently and without ambivalence.
When there is scope creep as there usually is in any complex project, make sure you communicate it directly.
Don’t do what you are bad at
Herein lies the rub for most solo-preneurs. It’s the Peter Principle. Good at what ever it is that you offer, that doesn’t necessarily make you a whizz at admin or rigorous with attention to detail. Chances are that if you’re creative, you’ll suck at the latter.
Find your yin. Find the person who relishes what you don’t and do this business together. Or employ them. Don’t spend your life trying to do what ever it is you’re bad at.
The client will end up spilling bile, even if what you’ve delivered is fabulous. They will stick on the typo, or the extras or that you didn’t reply within the same day. No point railing about it. It just is. Don’t do it.
Every business development person, every business blogger, every workshop on how to run your business rolls this mantra out until your eyes swivel and disappear down the back of your throat with I KNOW, I goddam KNOW.
I KNOW, I must say NO.
But sure enough, along comes a client. Along comes the instinct that says, this doesn’t feel right; they’re not right, my product is not the right fit, they don’t have the budget. Running in tandem comes the desire to make the money, because you have bills to pay, retirement to plan for, a life you want to live.
So you don’t say no, and they’re always right. If you don’t say no when your gut tells you, you’ll lose money and worse, you’ll be scarred by the discourtesy.
Your life is precious. It’s not worth the dollars. It’s not worth the scarring. It’s not worth a single cell of your energy.
Partner, don’t supply
You’re not a supplier. You’re not a service provider. You’re a collaborator in helping others achieve what they need to succeed. Real partners are not discourteous. They’re respectful and caring.
How many clients who would love and value you, and want to have you as a partner to their success, do you need to earn what you need?
You best work then is to find these people.
Then offer them a brilliant solution for exactly the problems you know they have to become their trusted and desired business partner.
Tell your stories
If you’re clear on why you do what you do, you should also be clear on your principles for delivering it and the stories that support your value.
When you know why you’re telling your stories to whom, and for what intention, your listeners will engage, connect, listen and recall your key messages.
A good storyteller rarely invites discourtesy.