Why Were You So Nice To That Guy?

Treating People The Way You Would Like To Be Treated

I was at work the other day when a salesman named Humberto came in asking for someone in a purchasing capacity. His product was a waterless cleaner and dispenser that law enforcement could use to quickly clean up when dealing with people. It was originally developed for athletics, especially wrestlers. He was excited about his product and was eager to talk to someone about it. I’m sure he was on commission, but that’s not the point.

Anyone who could have spoken with Humberto was either busy or disinterested. So I spoke with him. He was a nice guy with an interesting product. We spoke for about 30 minutes and when he was through with his pitch, he shook my hand and said, “Thanks for your time.” When I went back into my office and explained the product to my coworkers, one of them asked, “Why were you so nice to that guy?”

Why I Was Nice To A Salesman

  1. It was easy. When I greeted Humberto, he spoke to me not as though I was simply someone in the way before he got to who he wanted or needed to speak to; he spoke to me as if I was the person he came to see. He asked how I was before going on with who he was and what his business was. Too often people refer to me and my coworkers as “just dispatchers.” They are less than polite and make it clear we aren’t the people they are looking for.
  2. He was pleasant, confident and well spoken. Humberto was pleasant to talk to. He was enthusiastic about his company and its products. He believed in what he was selling and was confident in his delivery.
  3. I put myself in his shoes. When a coworker asked why I was so nice to Humberto, I replied, “Because my wife does sales for her business and I know how hard it can be.” Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes is helpful in any number of circumstances. My wife does sales, my sister did telephone sales when she was in school. I know it isn’t easy, even if you love the work and are good at it. Why not listen to the person and act as though it were you in their position?
  4. I’m awesome. Just kidding. (Not really)

Lessons Learned

  1. Take the time to listen to someone. You might be the person asking for that courtesy next time.
  2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. See above. You may think you have job security now, but what if things change? What if you are the salesman next time?
  3. Look at it as a break. Sometimes people are genuinely busy. I don’t know if I would have taken the time to speak to Humberto as I did if there were emergencies and great calamities occurring. But there weren’t at the time, so taking a few minutes to speak with him was like a quick break from the office.
  4. There may be an opportunity for you in the future. During Humberto’s presentation, he mentioned his cleaning product was originally marketed to high school athletic departments, specifically wrestlers. Someone mentioned that law enforcement might be a good market for the product, so they began selling to police departments. I asked if they had considered the fire and EMS market, as they certainly have physical contact with the public. He replied that they were taking things in stages and fire and EMS would be their next step. I told him I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for almost twenty years and if his company needs any more salespeople to give me a call. I was joking at the time, but as I thought about it later, I realized there might be an opportunity in the future. If I hadn’t taken the time to speak with him, there would be no opportunity.

It’s easy to be disinterested and cynical. Believe me, working in public service and emergency services can easily make one hardened and cynical. But if you treat others as you would like to be treated, you may find that it makes things much more pleasant for everyone involved.

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