Photo: Rachel_2007 via Flickr
Everyone should be given a fair shot, obviously.But to borrow a line from Atlas Shrugged, I’m always looking for sparks of competence, “like a diamond prospector in an unpromising wasteland.”
If the potential client, business partner, or employee flashes a red warning flag — or an armada of fiery warning flags — that they probably do not possess that competence, I run away as quickly as possible. You should, too.
Avoiding incompetence and those who lack social intelligence will save your business millions of dollars over time.
On the flip side, if someone is talented and socially adept, do everything in your power to keep that person as a partner, employee or valued client. Confident, smart, legitimately passionate people are a rarity in the business world.
Here’s an example from just earlier today: someone cancelled on a business meeting with just 35 minutes prior notice, no reason given as to why, and via text no less. (Not even a phone call! The Twitter Generation really is without class.)
She asked if we could meet another time. I texted back that this was totally possible, but I was “frankly annoyed” at the flippant last minute cancellation. (Of course, this was not possible, I had already dismissed her in my mind as a potential contractor. I would never trust someone that “flaky” to represent our business to the outside world. But to remain courteous, I didn’t want to seem severe, so I left the door open.)
This is where my instincts about her “weirdness” prove to be spot-on.
She unexpectedly texts back a few minutes later that she is “frankly annoyed as well.”
I scratch my head and do a confused Scooby Doo “ruh-roh?” Someone has been beefing up on the business psychology section of the bookstore, perhaps, but doesn’t know what they’re doing. At all.
I try calling her, as such a conversation can be handled more diplomatically on the phone as opposed to via green text bubbles. She lets it go to voicemail. Oh well, text it is.
I express my confusion: “You’re annoyed that YOU cancel on me at the last minute? Unprofessional. And believe me, I won’t be contacting you again to resched.”
She replies: “Awesome.”
I can’t even imagine the potential damage someone like this could do to my business if she ever interacted this way with our site’s partners, or with customers.
Whereas before I was truly just annoyed, I am now alienated and a bit angry: this person is actively wasting my time, and doesn’t understand business etiquette or social boundaries at all.
The old, weaker version of myself would have given this woman a second shot at meeting. Perhaps even hired her to see how things went.
And that would wind up being a disaster.
Have a spine. When someone is off, don’t use them. When a company seems off, don’t use them. Patience always pays off in the long run when it comes to finding the right partner companies and workers.
Just my 5 dollars. (I know the expression is 2 cents, but that’s always struck me as odd. At least you can buy something with 5 dollars; I don’t think this ramble is entirely worthless to readers.)
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