In business, there are two reasons to treat people kindly or to help them solve problems.
One is because we genuinely strive to be kind and helpful, so we make it about others.
The second is because we want something from them, and it’s a means to an end, so we make it about ourselves.
I’ve been dealing with fake salespeople for as long as I can remember. These are not fake people, necessarily. Just people wearing masks with fake smiles in order to make the sale. They pretend to be happy to help you because it’s good for business.
It’s polite. I appreciate it. Maybe they lost a pet the day before, or have a sick child at home, or had a tire go flat on their drive to work. Everyone’s dealing with something we’d probably be extra-nice about if only we all wore signs around our necks:
“My father is dying of cancer.”
“I’m going through a painful divorce.”
“My daughter is being bullied at school.”
And then maybe we’d all be just a bit more mindful of our constant (albeit mostly accidental) self-centeredness.
It’s not about us.
The business transaction can’t be measured in the dollars earned, but the opportunities our products and services create for clients. If they pay us more than the value our work provides, is that really successful? If they feel cheated? Or worse—if the deal is literally a financial loss for them?
It’s about them.
It MUST be about them.
The Secret to Business (and Life)
From author and speaker Glennon Doyle Melton:
“I used to hate public speaking. I hated it because I thought it was about me. I thought it was about being amazing and making everyone think: WOW SHE’S SO AWESOME so I held my breath the whole time and tried to be fabulous and impressive.”
That’s always where we go wrong.
“Life and art and work and love: They’re not about showing off, they’re about showing up. They’re not about saying: HERE I AM! They’re about saying: THERE YOU ARE. They are not just about being seen by others—they are about truly SEEING OTHERS.”
So now, everywhere I’m invited to speak, I make sure I am fully, fully prepared before I walk on the grounds. So that with the first person I meet—from the driver to the hosts to the ushers to every person in the audience and hugging line—I can be fully present. Because those who trust me enough to invite me into the day they’ve spent months planning are not just inviting me to be seen by their people but to SEE THEIR PEOPLE. It took me a while to figure this out. People don’t need you to be amazing—but they do need you to be amazed. People don’t even need you to be interesting—they just need you to be interested. Want to be loved today?
LOVE LOVE LOVE.
This is my speaking mantra, from the second I get out of the car: ‘Glennon – Wherever you are, be the soul of that place.’ – Rumi. ‘Then when you get back to the hotel—you can have a cheeseburger and Bravo.’ – I added this part.
“Wherever you are today, loves, be the soul of that place.”
It’s nothing you haven’t heard from Zig Ziglar or read before on an inspirational cat poster: Giving breeds getting. Human generosity is ALWAYS rewarded. (Feel free to test it for yourself.)
Which begs the questions: What motivation is there to take advantage of others? What’s the positive outcome generated by lying to make a sale, and leaving a trail of dissatisfied customers in our wake? If financial prosperity is a byproduct of creating financial opportunity for others, then why do so many people end up victims of scams, fraud and deceit?
If being generous and REALLY caring about the customer and taking genuine interest in helping people solve problems leads to a flourishing business, then why would we ever make it about us?
There’s no need to ask: What’s in it for me? Because we accidentally get whatever good things we crave when we help other people get the good things they crave.
We can fake this, of course. We can convince our clients or customers that we truly see them, empathize with their problems, and are genuinely committed to helping them, even though we don’t actually feel that way.
Or we can divert all that energy we use pretending to care to ACTUALLY caring—you know, authentically.
By seeing the human beings in front of us. The ones with the same stresses and pressures and scars we have.
There you are. We’re not so different. How can I help?
And then good spreads.
And then word spreads.
And then maybe we even make a few bucks on the side.