I moved recently, and I’ve been hitting up Craigslist, Freecycle, and other groups both to download stuff at my old place and to upload new stuff at the new. From all these interactions, which have ranged from good to bad to downright ugly, I’ve learned a few things. Things that are totally applicable to the business world, and, well, to Real Life. Things your mother should have taught you. Things you are likely already passing on to your own kids:
1. Return emails promptly.
Sometimes I was receiving up to 20 responses from a Freecycle ad, but I ALWAYS took time for at least a minimal response. Having been on the other end of this, making countless fruitless inquiries that dropped off into oblivion, I know how important it is to at least receive something in the way of acknowledgment. And in a relatively timely fashion as well. When people order services from me on my website I make it a point to personally respond within 24 hours no matter what else is going on for me. I’m surprised how many businesses FAIL at this basic element of customer service.
2. Call people by their name.
I admit, I stole this one from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which I read at 14. I still use its elements in every day life (I also learned how to perform a proper handshake, another essential life skill). Call people by their name. Can’t remember names? Me neither. I’m horrible with names. When you meet someone, repeat their name out loud to them immediately and then find at least one more way to use their name before you move on. Works every time. And everyone loves the sound of their own name.
3. Give appreciation when it counts.
Everyone wants to hear they did a good job, but being around someone who says it constantly makes the appreciation lose its meaning. Be judicious but generous with praise, and people will lap it up and fall over themselves to continue pleasing. Show your gratitude and your own world will fall into place also.
4. Keep your promises.
This belongs with its corollary: Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
Everyone understands that sometimes things happen, but who wants to do business/make playdates/be friends with someone who consistently breaks idealistic promises? Don’t be that person. Be realistic about what you can make good on, and then follow through. Same goes for parenting.
5. Be kind, rewind.
In other words, leave things as you found them. Observe the Golden Rule. Be the person you want others to be.
What other important life rules are you passing down to your kids?