So we chatted about her home town, its nickname, and the weather there. We had fun. But, alas, the time came to get on with it, so I said, "I assume you're calling to sell me something." Nope. She was calling to inquire into retaining the agency.
I was completely surprised. And completely glad that I had been pleasant with her.
Years ago, when I worked for another agency, a fellow came to our office unannounced. We assumed he was a salesperson. My boss marched up and seethed, "I don't let my people show up without an appointment, and I'm not going to take it from you." Feeling that was unduly aggressive of my boss, I invited the fellow into my office. There, he apologized graciously for not arranging an appointment—and proceeded to say he had stopped in to see about hiring our shop. "You come highly recommended," he said.
My intercom buzzed. It was my boss telling me that if I didn't throw the fellow out, he would come in and do it himself. "He's a client," I said. My boss came slinking into my office, now cute, cuddly and apologetic. Amazingly, the fellow indeed hired us—and later sent my boss a bag of red hot jaw breakers to "go with his volatile temper." He was a great man. The client, not my boss.
So I'm sure you can see why I breathed a sigh of relief that, this morning, I hadn't followed my former employer's example.
But here's the thing. Regardless of whether you're being hired or sold to, nice is a good idea. We gain nothing by being nasty. On the contrary, we lose. Not only do we needlessly flay someone trying to make a living, we risk vandalizing our inner Dorian Gray.
Even if the caller is a tenacious jerk—it happens—the healthiest, most angst-free course is to skip the verbal assault and simply hang up.
So here's a New Years resolution to consider. Let's be pleasant in our business dealings. Genuinely pleasant. Whether or not we think it's going to fatten our wallet.
Happy New Year.