Monday, March 30, 2009

Deliciously Season Your Words With a Pinch of Salt!

Many books have been written on business etiquette, strategies and so forth. From Machiavelli’s “The Prince” to the copious translations of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”, we are told that business is a “dog-eat-dog” world. I do not subscribe to that notion totally. Yes, we must all work hard, pay our dues and be careful of the occasional idiot trying to use us as his stepping stone. I also believe that we have the responsibility to season our words with the right amount of “salt” and to be sincere in our communication with others.

Seasoning our speech with salt meaning just add a pinch of it - adding too salt would make our communication an insult. I’ve never seen anything worth while come out of arrogance and bringing people down. In fact, if your tone and body language matches your well seasoned words, people would bend over backwards to accommodate you. We are to build people not to break them (too salty) or mislead them (no salt).

Salt has other properties; it acts like a preservative and it is a catalyst in cooling processes. The right amount of salt in our words can preserve a business relationship and cool down any misunderstandings.

I was in charge of third party vendor contracts at my last place of employment; a well established and respected auto dealership in Poughkeepsie, New York. Unfortunately I inherited some very disturbing problems from the last Director of E-commerce. We were having huge problems with our vendors and no one would return my calls. I sent out an e-mail to each one introducing myself and asked them politely if they could please let me know why they wouldn’t return my calls.

Well, I spent the next two days fielding calls. Let me tell you, I got an earful but I listened very carefully. The bottom-line was that they resented the mistreatment they got from my predecessor. After our conversations, I began to rebuild the broken relationships. A major part of the healing process came from conversations we had afterwards. While the relationships were strictly business in nature, they were also pleasant. In fact when it came time to renegotiate contracts, many of my vendors were giving my company huge discounts. My company saved $70,000 in 2008!

Use words that build-up and not tear down and be sincere in your relationships. People just want to be treated with respect. Give respect and it’ll come back to you in spades, my friends.
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