I was once asked to make some phone calls on behalf of one of our non-profit customers. We were asked to call their suppliers to see if any of them would make contributions to this very worthy cause and we chose to help.
They had two suppliers on their list for “fire and safety” stuff – fire extinguisher sales and service. I phoned one of the suppliers, was put through to the owner, and before I could finish the pitch, I was cut off with “Let me stop you right there. We get asked to make donations to our customers all the time and we choose not to.” The tone was confrontational and the feeling it gave me was not pleasant. Many of the other suppliers choose not to give, but none were rude about it and many took extra care to listen, express support for the cause, and take into consideration that someone had volunteered their time to make the phone call and that the cause was one of their customers, a group that supported their business.
When I called the competitor company, the reception was warm, the tone was friendly and I left the call knowing exactly where I would go if we ever needed anything to do with fire and safety.
Three days after that, the fire inspector visited the IBEX Payroll Headquarters for the first time in 11 years. We found out that our fire extinguishers need to be serviced every year, not every decade, and funny – we knew exactly where we were going to get the help we need.
All of us leaders need to treat every person we encounter with respect and dignity. We set the tone for those on our team and we represent our organization in everything we do. …and you never know who knows the people you deal with and what kind of Karma not being nice will bring back upon you. So be nice always, even when you have to say no.