Business Rudeness & Disrespect are CHOICES!

As we are acutely aware, Australia is in the grip of a horrific domestic violence epidemic. Many conversations centrearound the notion of “choices”.   Most perpetrators of domestic violence do not inflict their actions outside of their family/spouse.    It is “selective” and a choice that is made and taken to inflict abuse on “a particular person/s”.   A perpetrator who breaks the nose of a spouse will most likely not do the same to a boss or friend will they? NO.  The same ethos applies with rude and disrespectful behaviour in business – it is selective.   It’s time to stand up and call it for what it is – a choice emanating from arrogance and/or ignorance.

Let me be upfront and call the  “elephant in the room” :

  • Rudeness & Disrespect is NOT OK in business. It’s unacceptable and is BAD business.
  • Courtesy & Respect are CHOICES and are mostly “selective”.
  • Excuses of “time”,  and “business is business” are  eddled conveniently – and generally DON’T cut it.
  • Courtesy & Respect is GOOD business.

How often do you observe someone treating a supplier or staff member like absolute crap, and then with a 180° turnaround treat a customer with respect ? For the purpose of explanation, let’s assume that these interactions resulted from a “conflict” – hence were fraught with potential volatility.  Yet, the customer is handled with kid gloves and the supplier or staff member with an iron fist. It’s a CHOICE isn’t it ?

We are ALL human and don’t always get it right – no one is perfect and we all behave at less than our best at times.   But for the most part, it is a premeditated  and selective CHOICE on how we treat others.

Whilst there are no official graphs to measure the financial impact rudeness and disrespect has on P&L’s,  I have no doubt the statistics, if quantifiable would be dire.   People who have an intact moral compass will be keen to read on here. But for many,  you may squirming as you hold onto the tenet that “business is business” and “it’s not personal”.    You may not give a flying fig about the “flowery deeds” of courtesy and respect.  But you will give a flying fig about maximising profits and reducing costs.

“Every person & their networks are potential clients & brand ambassadors”

There are 4 Key areas where businesses need to lift their game :

Staff Turnover & Loss of Productivity  

Everyone knows that staff turnover and loss of work productivity is a huge cost. So why do so many employers treat their “good” staff so poorly ?   It’s baffling – for goodness sake “you catch more butterflies with honey than mortein”.

It’s  not rocket science – but there is a prevalent  belief that  “staff should be lucky to have a job and they are there just to work”.   Pffft.   After 11 years in recruitment, only circa 10% of “good” candidates wanted to leave a company due to true career advancement  or personal life circumstances.   Indeed close to 90% left because of  disrespectful and toxic managers and environments. And staff who  remain in unpleasant companies will   have higher absenteeism rates and a marked reduction of output and creativity.

Doesn’t it make good financial business sense to reduce  turnover of  “good”  staff and ensure the employees  who remain operate to their full potential with strong engagement ?

Repair Tips

  1. Again, it’s not rocket science – treat staff with respect,      honesty and courtesy.  Treat them professionally, fairly, with      empathy and encouragement.  If individuals   or      teams are  not performing, try first to find out why, and  ven consider bringing in  an employee engagement, change  management or  training specialist  to help.
  2. Remove toxic managers and staff who treat colleagues poorly.   Their venom (albeit overt or passive aggressive) will not only      result in staff turnover and loss of productivity, but also damage your      brand in market as an “employer of choice to work for”.   I  cannot tell you how many candidates had refused to consider jobs   at  well known companies  because of a manager/s poor   reputation in market.

Hiring/Recruitment Processes 

The vast majority of recruitment processes are handled with such disrespect and rudeness it would be laughable if not so appalling.   Far too many recruiters, HR departments and hiring managers  have absolutely no empathy,  desire or KPI motivation to communicate with any modicum of business courtesy.

What recruiters, HR and hiring managers just  don’t  “get”   is that  “legitimate” candidates are  often customers.   And a negative  experience of the recruitment process will most definitely rebound badly in so many ways – financially, lack of  referrals and brand damage  etc.

What is really alarming, is that rudeness and disrespect is given  equally to the most senior of executives as to the most junior of candidates.   It is of no consequence if you are a $200K manager or a $45K co-ordinator.   Poor behaviours and processes are  outrageous  and it’s a CHOICE that is taken either from individuals or companies as a whole.    Enough of the excuses as I hear so many bleet that a/ we don’t have time b/ we are just doing what the client wants c/ its a tough and competitive world, blah  blah blah.

If you don’t show “legitimate” candidates courtesy and respect during the hiring process, you could lose more than just an applicant. What are the chances those candidates will encourage others  to apply to your company – NIL.  Nor will they have  positive conversations around your products and services.

Repair Tips

  1. Embrace  a culture that “every candidate” is a potential client.
  2. Encourage phone enquiries for mid –senior level roles.   Showing you have a “realness and desire to connect” will actually draw in  stronger candidates.
  3. Email a “thank you” response within 5 days of receipt of all CV’s      to “legitimate” candidates.  At the very least have an auto-generated   program set up to do so.  All senior candidates should be  addressed by their ‘first name’ as a minimum.    In all emails share gratitude for the candidates’  interest, show respect for them as an individual  and clarify the      processes with transparency.   Do NOT use phrases that are   de-humanising and insensitive.   (Note: the skill used in a job advertisement copy will amplify the number of      appropriate candidates and weed out the in-appropriate – so time is saved  from that end also)
  4. Do NOT put on the bottom of advertisements “Short Listed   Candidates ONLY will be contacted”   Pfft – damn rude,      un-inviting & arrogant.
  5. Train staff in writing great emails to assuage concerns and  further questions.  Provide the skills to handle the delivery of  npleasant news. Human nature is to shy away from having “difficult  conversations”.  Candidates are generally  left dangling in      distress waiting for news, results an feedback.
  6. Progress updates – give regularly.  Even if there is no news,      a quick email to say such will be welcome.   One of the  most vulnerable times for people is whilst job hunting  – be   kinder than expected.    Referrals will flood in.
  7. For recruiters – refuse to work with  clients who clearly do not value candidates nor their time. I cannot tell  you how many clients I ditched and argued with over the years after    candidates (both senior and junior) were treated with rudeness and   disrespect at interviews. It wasn’t good enough.

New Business Development  

Reaching out for new business – B2B or B2C is a function we ALL need to do for business sustainability and growth.  Whether an SME or a global corporate, we all are in the game of driving new business.

I have spent years coaching sales people the skills to open doors with “relatable and tailored ” communication techniques. To demonstrate within a few minutes (or a few lines) the purpose of any new contact is crucial and indeed respectful to the other person (their time is valuable also).     So I am not referring to “generic marketing activities”, “blanket email campaigns” and “overseas & local impersonal call centre contacts”.   I am referring to “tailored and personalised” emails, letters and phone calls.   (Mind you it is good practice  to be polite to the call centres in Australia – every one there is trying to earn a buck.)

Recently I have asked everyone I meet in business how their “personally crafted” new business activities  were  received.  To my horror the level of disrespect and rudeness was widespread.  And we all often feel “it’s just US”.

We can spend a great deal of time composing  a really inviting and personal email or LinkedIn message to a potential client only to be totally ignored.   It’s absolutely OK to receive a  “thanks but no thanks” – no problem.   But it is NOT ok to totally ignore a personalised contact or phone call.  It’s just NOT good business.

You never know who someone knows and how poor experience feedback travels to others!   Many companies and managers are now evaluating how their supply partners treat  their suppliers and staff.   Forward thinking companies seek to  ensure a cogent message of brand respect and humanitarian conduct is in place to amplify their own positive brand image.

Tips to Repair

  1. Remember that you, your staff or colleagues are also reaching out  to new potential clients regularly.  Think of how YOU feel when      treated with rudeness – would you recommend that company ?
  2. Respond to ALL personalised emails, inmails and phone calls.     A simple “thank you but no thank you”  is  OK.  Again the skill in writing a mature and respectful response is      bereft for many.  Communication training will help.

Supplier /Client Relationships

Ok the same rules apply. What I find extraordinary, is that so many people have such selective divergent treatments of suppliers and clients.   As a small business owner for 11 years now, I always treat suppliers with great respect – as if they were clients.  Why, because it’s damn good business and results in suppliers often going the extra mile for me.  Hey now that kind of is in reverse also isn’t it – food for thought.

Tips to Repair

  1. Treat suppliers as you would clients. They also can recommend       your brand  to others.
  2. Occasionally send them a thank you card, a bottle of wine or a      lunch.  Why is it that “networking and relationship building” always      has to be from a supplier to client?  Why can’t a client do something      nice for a supplier ? The benefits can be greater than ever imagined.    The      business impact is that again your service levels will elevate and your      suppliers will refer more clients to you.

And finally :

Raising the  Bar – Niceties!

A few years back I met the CEO of a very high profile advertising agency at an event.  I was running my recruitment company and was keen to secure new clients.   The CEO and I had a good  chat and exchanged business cards.

I intended to email him a “great to meet you, would love to work with you” note the following day.  But  he emailed FIRST.   He wanted to  thank ME for something kind I said to him the previous evening.    Whilst I didn’t get to recruit for the agency, I always referred to him in market with great admiration. And I always referred candidates and potential clients to him.

So never under-estimate the power of sending a little nicety – a thank you note, a compliment, a referral etc. Do not just send them to people you think you can get something from/a potential client.   Do not be selective with your respect and courtesy.

Raise the communication bar with Courtesy & Respect – it is good business sense !




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