I am repeatedly astonished by various sins of omission.
First example, many people don’t read or grasp agreements. I can’t list the number of clients we write to, detailing an offer, with clear terms and conditions, who write back enthusiastically and say, “Let’s go!” Then, having broken ground, asking them to make time, to be responsive with their accountabilities, or pay our invoices as per the terms of engagement, they cite “sudden reversals,” “meetings,” or “standard practices.” Occasionally I understand the corporate equivalent of a natural disaster may strike. Usually it’s a tempest in a tea-cup being utilized to justify inertia. We’re good at tackling that, invoking our client’s own best interests as a way to get them up off the mat and going . Meetings recur. That can hardly be an argument against taking necessary proactive time. As for “standard practice,” that’s irrelevant when you’ve agreed to specific terms. Why we should be bound by the lack of imagination or dogmatism of other consulting firms is beyond me. These temporary sticking points are usually all resolved amicably through engagement, but I almost feel like saying, “Okay, can we get past the post agreement depression at realities, so we can get on to delivering value for you?”
Second sample, people who don’t reply to messages or emails. These are often people who end up hiring us, getting back to us and more. So why do they disappear for periods at a time and enjoy being chased? Why don’t they say, “Not now”? Or else, “I need something else.” Or even, “I’m struggling with this decision.” Then we could have a dialogue. Or if they know they aren’t proceeding, why keep wasting everyone’s time? Evasiveness, elusiveness, vagueness, does not make you special, or important, or a celebrity. It reveals you as a flake, someone taffy like, or so self-absorbed that simple courtesy or honesty eludes you. These are not great calling cards. Worse, they become habitual. If you only respond to those who can benefit you, and can’t abide by professional decorum and reciprocal courtesy, that’s a way to begin unraveling your character and reflexes. Good luck when the shoe is on the other foot.
Third offshoot, obliviousness to others. These are people who stand in front of restaurant doors say, phones in ears, or chattering with pals, holding up everyone else. When you say, “Excuse me,” they glower at you, because you have dared to intrude on their self-absorbed banter or loud ranting. We all may be temporarily oblivious. Most of us when we realize it, apologize pleasantly, and oblige the other person’s request. It’s called civility. What do we gain by dulling our senses at what is happening around us? Might such blinkers not inhibit awareness of opportunity, dull the creativity to connect our services to other people’s needs (which requires discerning that these are other people and may have needs that may not immediately occur to us), or lessen the capacity to communicate across disagreements or barriers? What is the motivation for such tunnel vision?
Someone who delivers on their accountabilities, understands and abides by agreements, refuses to make paltry excuses (like “meetings”), responds clearly and proactively, is a pleasure to interact with, is aware of the world around them, and enjoys expressing as well as receiving civility and service, is almost in a league by themselves. Their businesses will flourish, their lives will be enriched.
Let’s join them!