Sometimes Listening to Kids Is Smart Business

My 11-year-old son is finishing his last year in elementary school. In preparation for the transition to middle school we hosted a meeting between his current teachers, and some of the middle school specialists he’ll have the next year. I had thought the meeting was just for myself and the teachers. But a few minutes in they suggested calling my son down to join us.

I was a bit nervous because  he had not been prepared for the meeting. To say I had no reason to worry was an understatement. My 11-year-old boy proudly walked into the room of 7 adults, less than half of which he’d ever met before.  He proceeded to shake each teacher’s hand while looking them in the eye. He sat down, was attentive, asked good questions and was just about as charming as an eleven year old boy is capable of being. Bear in mind, this is not a boy who particularly likes school.

When we got home that night I complimented my son Derick on the meeting. He hugged me, then said “Of course mom. First impressions are important. People help people they like, more than people they don’t like.”  Out of the mouth of babes!  He couldn’t be more right.

Derick reminded me of one of the most important principles of building nurturing relationships with all of the people in our lives. Most of us remember to engage in respect building outreach to potential buyers as a natural part of our sales process. But are you applying the same principles to your suppliers? To support resources that drive efficiency in your business? To the sales person who supplies your data? Even to the caterer who fuels your brainstorming sessions?

Being liked is about more than being nice, although that helps. It about sustaining a good first impression by building trust, listening well, staying engaged. It’s about making sure the other person feels respected, even when you disagree. It’s about leaving a lasting impression. It’s not about caving to unreasonable demands, or taking a loss just to make someone feel good.

When done well, leaving a good impression doesn’t just feel good. It’s good for your bottom line. People really do help those they like, even when it’s ordering a vegetarian meal 30 minutes before catering is supposed to be delivered!