When my “extra” refrigerator in the laundry room needed to be replaced, I knew I didn’t want to spend much on a new one so I did a lot of research and comparison shopping. I found the company where I would get my refrigerator, but I disliked the salesperson at the store a few blocks from me, so I put off the purchase for months. I even checked back a few times, but nope, he hadn’t improved!
When I finally decided to make the purchase, I drove a considerable distance farther and was willing to pay more if the less expensive item wasn’t in stock, just to avoid the salesperson I didn’t like. Fortunately, I found a product I liked at a very low price and the salesperson was perfect. I’ve already sent a thank you note to the store manager.
That experience made me think about how each of us are salespeople for something–or we should be. Would someone drive farther to do business with you or would they drive farther to avoid doing business with you?
*Do you make them feel like an interruption or like a valued person you want to assist?
*Are you nicely groomed, pleasant, smiling and helpful?
*Are you dependable, so if you say you’ll have something done at a particular time, you do?
*Do you answer their questions in a way that is respectful and helpful, even if perhaps they don’t quite understand the subject as well as you?
*Do you greet them, talk to them and say goodbye to them in a way that gives them a good feeling about you and about themselves?
*Are you a top salesperson for yourself, your work, your section or unit and your organization?
You don’t have to be so glib and smooth talking that you can sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, as the old saying goes. But, you should be the kind of person with whom people enjoy working and communicating. A good goal is to make them feel better just because they’ve been around you.
Your customers and clients may not be able to drive farther to get away from you if you’re the only resource for them. But, you’ll never be as effective or successful as you want to be and you’ll never get the cooperation and assistance you want, if most people would do almost anything to avoid you.
Promise yourself to make a few sales tomorrow!
I was reading an article about the diet of pioneers on their journeys to the West. It said a party of four was advised to bring: 600 pounds of flour, 400 pounds of bacon, 200 pounds of dried beans, 120 pounds of biscuits (probably the “hardtack” kind, not fluffy ones), 120 pounds of dried fruit, and pounds of other items such as seasonings, sugar and various chemicals.
Although meat was hunted and fish was caught along the trail, often beans were the main food. The article commented that both men and women cooked on the trip, but one thing was a no-no: Cooks didn’t go to other campfires to give advice. They stayed at their own wagon and–to use the phrase I adopted for this article–stirred their own beans.
Don’t you wish people you interact with at work would heed that advice? We all need to spend more time stirring our own beans and less time stirring the beans of others, so to speak. (I’m sure there’s something vaguely off-color about that analogy, but it still makes sense to me!)
There are certainly times when advice or help is asked for and you can give it briefly, then step back and let the person take care of things on their own. There are also times when the outcome is your responsibility and you need to do more than give advice, you need to correct or completely change the way something is done. (Even then, you need to be certain the change is really, truly necessary.) Those situations involve minding business that is yours or at least partly yours.
The advice or false help that isn’t needed or wanted is when it is merely meddling. For example, you’re working very hard–maybe rushing–on a project or task that you have expertise in and experience doing. In the middle of that, someone who has plenty of his or her own work to do and knows nothing about what it takes to do your work, gets involved under the guise of helping.
*”I know you were placing those orders but I went ahead and did ours so you wouldn’t have to.”
*”I saw the handouts on the copying machine so I distributed them.”
*”I know you said you wanted to contact people personally, but I was in the meeting so I told them about it already.”
*”You said you’d bring it, but I wasn’t sure you’d remember, so I brought some too.”
*”I know you use that vendor, but I’m sure you can get it cheaper if you just check around.”
*”I put those tools away because I didn’t think you were using them.”
*”That’s no way to do it. Here, move over and let me show you how.”
*”I know it’s not my business, but really, don’t you think you should do this instead?’
If you try to explain why the advice isn’t very helpful the rescuer will usually insist it could be helpful if only you would see it their way. Finally, if you’re not very gentle about it, you’ll get a huffy, “I was only trying to help.” as Mr. Fixit or Ms. Rescuer hangs up or stalks off.
The bottom line: Most of us have enough problems handling our own work without trying to tell others how to do theirs. If something being done by someone else will harm your own ability to work, that’s one thing. But, if you just think you have a better idea, can show how smart you are, want to rescue people and make them grateful to you, or whatever your other motivation might be, stay at your own campfire and stir your own beans.
This is a cookbook with some good recipes and interesting tips from pioneer times.