Success Strategies - April - 2016

Getting Your Props: Respect is a Two-Way Street

When you travel in a rough neighborhood, the way you show or earn respect is an important ritual. As a young adult, I worked in a warehouse on the east side of Little Rock, Arkansas, and I occasionally had to walk home at night through a particularly rough neighborhood.

There was more than one occasion when I encountered a gang on the street and had to talk my way past them. The first moment was always a non-verbal challenge that would often determine where things went next. “You dissin’ me?”

I learned to make eye contact, show respect but not weakness, and then move along. When I was challenged openly I would mention my friend who lived there and usually that was enough. But I could easily have gotten into trouble if I was more concerned about how they regarded me than about how I acknowledged them.

This same dynamic is present in your day-to-day work. When customers come in with a problem, they’re very aware of how you react to them. If you’re more interested in getting them impressed with you and your knowledge, then they’ll probably have just the opposite reaction from the one you want.

So, if you’re talking and telling, you aren’t connecting and selling. Make listening and observing your first act. As author Stephen Covey often said, “Seek first to understand; then to be understood.”

You might say, “But hey, what about my ‘props’? Shouldn’t people show me more respect?”

Well, no.

Business is about service and compensation. It’s how a society makes life better for itself: One person offers a product or service that the other needs, and that person pays for it. This is how we share without having less thus. It isn’t about showing how smart, good, or cool you are. It’s about helping the greatest number of people you can and being paid for that service.

So how do you get someone’s respect? Well, of course you earn it; but more important, you begin by showing them respect. When we treat a young adult or a single mom or a person who knows nothing about cars with respect, we earn their respect in return. In fact, they’re often amazed and pleased to be treated that way.

If you want to avoid price resistance, show more respect to your customer. They’ll appreciate you for it and — bonus! — they’ll trust you more.