There are many different opinions on karma; what it is, how it works, if it’s real or not. Whether or not you believe in some kind of mystical karma is not the point of this article. Here I will be talking about one of my indisputable rules: Always treat people with respect, because you never know who you are talking to.
Case in point… When I was selling advertising for a small local magazine, the office scheduled an appointment for me to meet with the owner of a local pet supply store. So I arrived at my appointment early like I always did (in case of any traffic problems that could make me late), and I sat in my car for about 30 minutes. As I was waiting, I did a little preparation. I looked through the magazine he would advertise in to see if he might have any competition. I looked through issues from other areas to give him ideas for what was working for other like businesses that might work for him as well. I always took pride in not being a very “salesy” salesperson. I wasn’t going to try to sweet-talk him into buying something he didn’t need. I was there to find out if he was advertising his business now, and whether or not I could help his business by bringing in more customers in a cost-effective manner. So, the clock strikes 4:00 and I go in to meet the owner. I ask the girl at the cash register if the owner is in (he shall remain nameless). She kindly says yes and goes to get him. He comes out, looks at me, and here is our conversation:
“Hey _____, I’m Mike with _______. You talked to ______ earlier, and he said I’d be coming by?”
“Uh, he said someone would drop something off.” (rudely)
“Oh ok. Well here’s the magazine. I know you’ve advertised with us before. How did it work for you guys last time?”
“I don’t know.” (Then he goes to ask his wife. He comes right back and continues)… “You can put us in it for free.”
As he says that to me, he continues to walk right by me without even looking at me. He goes to help a customer at the cash register. So I stand there off to the side, patiently waiting for him to come back and finish our conversation. Well he never came back. I stood there and looked around the store a little bit, all the while keeping an eye on him to see what he was up to. He went out to the parking lot for a bit, came back in and disappeared to the back of the store, just whatever he could do to avoid me. After about 15 minutes of this nonsense, I walked into the side office where his wife was, and gave her a copy of the magazine with a couple prices and my phone number written on it, and I walked out.
Now I was in sales for about 8 years, so I’ve seen it all. Some people have an aversion to salespeople. I get it. But the total lack of respect for my time and his rudeness really rubbed me the wrong way. If you’re busy, or I came at a bad time, just have the decency to tell me you need to reschedule or you’re just not interested. But treat me with respect.
You may say, “So what? I would have done the same thing. I don’t like salespeople either.” That may be the case. But the moral of the story is this: Always treat people with respect, because you never know who you are talking to. This guy didn’t know anything about me. Here’s what he didn’t know: I love dogs more than anyone I know. My whole family loves dogs and has dogs. I know tons of people that have pets. And when I first walked in the store, I noticed lots of cool gourmet treats that I was thinking about buying for the dogs in my life! After this experience, do you think I would spend a dollar in this guy’s store?
What if my dogs had loved those treats, and I had become a regular customer for all of my pet supply needs? What if I was so happy with this store that I told everyone I knew about my great experience? What if some of those people became regular customers? What if they told all their friends about their great experience? And then…you get the picture. How many potential customers did he lose by treating just one person badly? How much money did he cost himself by not being open-minded to what I had to say? (Aside from not going with the cost-effective advertising program that I had to offer!) A lot.
Maybe he’s a really nice guy, and he was just having a bad day for whatever reason. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say that’s the case. I’m the only person he’s EVER been rude to. It still cost him a lot of money. So imagine how much he’s costing himself if he’s rude to even one person per day. What if I were an investor, and I had been looking for a small business to expand into multiple locations? What if I knew people who were investors? (I do.) It all adds up in the end. Even if you don’t believe in karma, you can see that it pays to be nice. Always treat people with respect, because you never know who you are talking to. (or who they know)