Author: Campbell, Bruce

It Takes All Kinds (and I Love 'em ALL!)

I worked at a business that had about 8000 customers, and at one time or another, I spoke with nearly all of them. The law of averages dictates that among these 8000 people, I would encounter just about every type of person there is. Well, who am I to defy the law! I DID meet (or speak to, at least) an amazing variety of people.

The vast majority were “normal” – that is, they were unremarkable. In our business context, they were courteous and we conducted our business in a way designed to simply get the job done and get on with our lives. As a representative of the company, I needed to at least try to make everybody I spoke to feel appreciated and wanted, and fortunately, this comes natural to me. We would speak for maybe 10 minutes, and they would feel like they probably chose the right company and we might never have an occasion to speak again (as long as they paid their bill).

But some portion of the 8000 would necessarily represent fringe elements – both good and bad. I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with some of the nicest, most generous and interesting people you could want to meet. On the other hand, I dealt with some people who were less pleasant – and that spectrum ranged from merely sullen to absolutely psychopathic. I had one guy insist that I was spying on him through his computer screen. (I saved his emails in case he ended up being a persistent problem.)

Being the CBA is a similar experience, albeit with a somewhat smaller sample size. As before, nearly everyone I deal with is pleasant, and some are flat out wonderful. I think most folks realize at some point that the most sensible default demeanor is courteous/friendly, even if you have to fake it a little. I don’t think I’ve encountered any overt psychopaths in the CBA, I am pleased to report. I think the common element of members (love and/or appreciation for bluegrass) tends to preclude virulent anti-social types.

I occasionally encounter a person (in business, or in personal life) who assumes that any type of business transaction is inherently adversarial. That is, an assumption that anyone who would offer a product or service in exchange for money is motivated to take advantage of the situation, and therefore needs to watched carefully, and that the needs of the buyer need to be zealously defended at every turn. Any deviation from expectations - be it a result of misunderstanding or basic human error – is construed as a ripoff attempt and met with fervent accusations and threats of reprisal.

This is not a healthy viewpoint. Based upon some pretty extensive interactions with fellow humans, I can tell you that most people, on a personal and business basis, don’t want to harm anyone. Because of that, when it appears otherwise, I think the best approach is to assume an accidental misunderstanding, and give the person with whom you’re dealing to clarify or rethink before assuming the worst. In other words, if you think your butcher has his thumb on the scale, ask him nicely to re-weigh the meat before buying. If he DID have his thumb on the scale, he’ll know you’re onto him. If he didn’t, the meat will weigh exactly the same, and you didn’t cast unfair aspersions. And the smile never had to leave your face!

Posted:  2/15/2012

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