April 11, 2012
There is a business skill that they don’t teach you in business school, that isn’t talked about much, and is disregarded by many as a weakness or something that has no place in business. It is not asked about in job interviews or mentioned on resumes but stories about it get out and spread like wildfire. It is kindness, simply kindness.
I may be seen as a pushover, or not as shrewd as my competitors but I decided when I set up my business many years ago that doing the ‘right’ thing by others would be an important part of the way I ran things. I’m not talking about kindness as a business plan, not helping people as part of a publicity campaign but how you treat those you encounter on a daily basis. Those who may never even mention it to a friend let alone put it on their Facebook page or contact the press. Little kindnesses that may not even be noticed – they matter more than you think.
Business can be stressful, days are full of minor misunderstandings and people coming together that have conflicting agendas. It is easy to fire off a quick email stating your displeasure or describing how angry you are with the way someone else is acting. It is easy to act impulsively and complain quickly because you didn’t get what you want. It is easy to pick up on all the errors people make and demand they are fixed.
It is much harder to separate your immediate emotion from the experience, to look at the bigger picture and the importance of the relationships you are building. It is harder to look at how you can solve the problem quickly without belittling anyone or making any snap judgements. It is harder, but it is worth it.
It is worth it because relationships are vital to your business. Deal with the problem in the best way you can without making judgement or saying anything you may want to take back later. Write kind emails, if you have to send them to a colleague, coach, or friend that isn’t emotionally involved to filter them, then do so. Once the situation is no longer urgent, or no longer makes your blood boil to think about then have a conversation with the person or people involved. You may learn some things you didn’t consider earlier.
You don’t have to be wishy-washy and accept bad service or incompetence from anyone, but it makes sense to solve the problem with as much honor and respect as you can muster and then review what happened later.
Kindness, humanity and humility are essential skills not only in business but in life. How you treat people is a measure of who you are. It may not always seem the most obvious reaction to things going wrong, but it is the one that will serve you best in the long term.
(This article was written by Aileen Bennett and first published in The Daily Advertiser on 4/12/12 – it may not be reproduced without permission).