What About the Golden Rule?

What about the Golden Rule?

No I don’t mean the one that say’s “those who have the gold make the rules,” frankly although that is true, it is also overdone to the point where often those with the gold treat the others like crap. It’s the other golden rule I want to talk about, the real one, the original, the one that says, “Treat all others like you would want to be treated.” Remember that one?  What has happened to that anyway? Have we outgrown that one? Is that one after thousands of years of excellent usage gone the way of the fax and the horse drawn carriage? Has that one become obsolete?

A few weeks ago I did a column called The Customer 2.0 that got a lot of attention. In the column I talked about the new type of customers, those we call the “Millennials” and others a little older than that. I described how to work with these folks; how the cards were stacked in their favor; how they did not answer the phone, nor return phone calls; how they never answered e-mails or how they cancelled appointments on short notice without any apologies or regrets and how the only time they would give a sales person the time of day is when they needed something.

Almost all of the comments I received about that column were positive. One person talked about how I was “right on” in terms of my describing her customers. Many others gave me examples from their own sales efforts that paralleled what I had said.

I was pleased that people had read the column first of all. I am always pleased when I hear from the dozen or so of you who read my column. I was equally happy that people had told me that what I had written was accurate and that it was exactly what they were experiencing.

Then I started processing what people were telling me. I started thinking about the sheer rudeness of the buyers and customers who were getting away with treating people like this and It made me mad, it made me angry, it made me realize that all sense of politeness has disappeared when it comes to business and dealing with people who are trying to make a living selling you something.

Now I know that the economic hard times brought on by the recent recession have made it a buyer’s market. I also know to be fair that the buyers are overworked; that they have faced layoffs in their companies to the point where two of them are doing the work the once five of them did.  I get all of that.

I also get that sales people are more aggressive than ever, that they have to work harder to make that sale; that they have to be more adamant and insistent in trying to set up appointment to make sales calls. And I get that this puts on strain on already over worked buyers, I get that.

But that is still not an excuse for the rudeness that is going on in business today. Phone calls left unanswered, e-mails the same, appointments cancelled and then the permeating arrogance of those who have the gold towards those who do not.

When all is said and done we are all hardworking people trying to do our best to make a living and support our families. We are all human beings and should treat each other as we would want to be treated but more than that as trusted business associates who can help one another in the long run.

To repeat another old adage, “What goes around comes around” and sooner than later we all need one another.

I’m reminded of a certain head of a purchasing department I knew many years ago. He had a team of about forty people working for him all of them dedicated to buying about a hundred million dollars of circuit boards for a large computer company.

This guy loved having the gold. He loved pushing us vendors around demanding that we jump through hoops for not only his company but for himself as well. He practically demanded the dinners and the rounds of golf that we as his vendors provided for him. And most of all he loved the “admiration” he thought we all had for him. He actually thought he was a great guy, with a lot of friends who loved him.

It was only when he lost this job did he come to realize that he had no friends. The dinners and the favors and the rounds of golf were all considered necessary evils that the board salespeople had to provide to keep on his good side and keep those orders coming in.

It was a sad day for this guy when he found himself out in the cold with no job, no power and no friends.

But this story has a good ending. This guy figured out that he had been a jerk; he was suitably humbled to the point that he found a job, he got some friends and he’s a very nice guy today. I know this because he’s the one who told me this story while he was apologizing to me for being such a jerk years before.

This guy learned his lesson the hard way. He learned that you have to treat everyone with as much respect in business as you do in your private life. That we should try to treat the people we work with as well as the people we worship with because in the end it’s all about the same thing, “treating those around us as we wish to be treated.” And that truly is only common sense

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