The cost of rudeness

black prince
The search for a suitable image for this story generated references to the Edward the Black Prince, who certainly was not rude. "Edward nevertheless still earned distinction as one of the most successful English commanders during the Hundred Years' War, being regarded by his contemporaries as a model of chivalry and one of the greatest knights of his age," according to Wikipedia.

Yesterday, I blew a $5,000 order because I was rude.

A client called me on my cellular phone as I was travelling from Ottawa to Toronto for Construct Canada, and I mistook him for an uninvited sales caller.? I was icy cold, offensive, and dismissive.

When I realized I had brushed off a client who was in the process of committing a $5,000 order, it was too late. (I had initially been dismissive at an earlier chance meeting, and had recovered . . . but obviously failed to learn my lesson.)

A Harvard Business Review article titled: “The High Cost of Rudeness”

A few minutes after the call, he sent me this email.

Further to my phone call, today Mark I do not want to do business with you! this is the second time we have talked? and both times you have been extremely rude, how you do business is beyond me in all my years I have not come across someone with such an attitude.

For someone with such a creative mind, I think you should be reading some self-help books and not writing for the sales prevention team.
Indeed, I was wrong, and the shock caused me to rethink how I conduct business, respond to people, and treat inbound callers that I have interpreted as nuisances.? Indeed I have been outright hostile and dis-respectful to perceived telemarketers (and real ones for that matter), job-seekers following up on resumes, public relations representatives, and survey takers, as well as door-to-door salespeople.
Yes, as a rule, these calls don’t add much value to my day or time and they are indeed sometimes inconvenient or intrusive. However, it doesn’t hurt to be respectful to everyone who comes into contact with me — and in the case of the wake-call, it can be downright costly.
It takes just a few seconds to courteously hear the opening pitch for a sales rep, or to politely decline a survey invitation, or to explain to a prospective employee that either the position has been filled or the resumes overall are under review. Sure, some inbound calls are from scammers and fraudsters (such as the purported Canadian Revenue Agency representatives asserting I have serious tax problems), and for these callers, disrespect is reasonable. But surely I can afford to be respectful to everyone else.
Lesson learned? Only time will tell. Thankfully, other blunders on my part have often taught me about the need to accept responsibility and change my approach, and somehow the failure has provided enough stress to force me to rethink my behaviours.
Did you enjoy this article?