Do Business As If Someone Is Listening

It’s not uncommon that consultants are used to evaluate teams, personnel, procedures and measures in place long before the consultant ever came along. It’s also not uncommon that we’re asked to dissolve relationships on a client’s behalf. I never mind these types of calls – they keep the client at arm’s distance and make me the “bad guy.” So be it.

Last Friday, I had occasion to make one of these calls.

Understanding that the party would be unlikely to go quietly into that goodnight, the client opted to monitor the call via a conference line. And this is why I say do business as if someone is listening. As last Friday, my job depended upon it.

Following the call, my client got a call from the conference call participant, who recounted a very different call. A call that, had my client NOT also been on the call and heard what had, indeed, went down, would have had be losing a client at the beginning of a relationship I very much enjoy.

Do business as if someone is listening.

The conference call participant’s account only solidified the client’s decision to end what was, without doubt, a bad relationship. How much integrity must you lack to have one conversation and then turn around and have a completely different one, understanding fully what was discussed? I wish I could say I was surprised at the scenario that developed, but I wasn’t.

Business tactics such as these reek of a elementary school game of Telephone – the one where you sat in a circle and whispered something into the person’s ear next to you. The phrase was then passed around the circle and you waited with bated breath to see what it came out as on the other end of the line. If you’re going to be the one who twists something around, you’d best be damn sure that you’re not identified as responsible for twisting it. But here’s a better idea: don’t even contemplate the twist.

It makes YOU look like the idiot, discounts your integrity and places you in a position where no one in a transaction could even recommend you to a colleague.

Relationships end. It’s a matter of life, of business. When you do business as if someone is listening, you remove your integrity from question. It’s never a matter of “he said/she said.” It’s a matter of “this was the conversation.”

People are smarter than we give them credit for, but it’s awfully easy to make yourself appear dumb in a heartbeat.

End note: Stop taking business calls in improper environments. Your car when the kids are in the backseat, in Starbucks where God and everyone can hear. Seriously – what can’t wait until you’re in a place that offers a respectable amount of privacy? I, for one, don’t want to hear you run down the whatchamafuckit on the latest deal or hear how your sales guy in Iowa is a sheep fucker. Put on the headset, shut the door, clear the room. If you really need have the world to listen to your call, send them all the dial-in instructions for a conference call. Chances are, none of them care enough to join.

***Be on the lookout! There’s a new look and feel coming to Redhead Writing on Monday, April 5th!

8 comments
nelsonmelle
nelsonmelle

As a mental health counselor this was always a must because of confidentiality concerns, but it just makes sense regardless of the profession. Great article.

nelsonmelle
nelsonmelle

As a mental health counselor this was always a must because of confidentiality concerns, but it just makes sense regardless of the profession. Great article.

lisagreim
lisagreim

It's hard to implement because, you know, we're big girls, we can take care of ourselves, and I fought against the notion that I needed someone else's help in ANY situation. So the lesson learned was that two heads are definitely better than one.

The Redhead
The Redhead

What an incredible perspective, Lisa. Thanks for sharing. I'd never even thought about the "self-application" of my own advice beyond practicing what I preach!

lisagreim
lisagreim

Good post. As I tell my children, if you always tell the truth, you never have to worry about keeping your story straight.That said: When I got cancer, I was advised always to bring somebody else with me to doctor's appointments. Why? In a stressful situation, your brain goes haywire. It mishears, fails to hear, translates things into Swahili. This can happen even when both parties are communicating in good faith. My partner and I would compare notes and discover we had heard entirely different things.The fact that the world is full of lying jackasses makes this strategy even more valid.

Cherry Woodburn
Cherry Woodburn

For me, it's not just business calls I don't want to hear, I don't want to hear your fights, your romance, your gossip or the private world of your family and its problems.Thanks for another good post and great business advice. Cherry

The Redhead
The Redhead

Great points, Tyler. My greatest fear is being "that girl." UGH!

Tyler Adams
Tyler Adams

Great post. I think the key is being as transparent as possible, in your business AND personal relationships. Sacrificing your integrity for marginal gains in business will only come back to bite you in the long run.On another note, you're absolutely right about waiting until you have some privacy to make a call. I took a call on a plane not too long ago before take off and couldn't help thinking that I'm being that asshole that I normally hate. Sometimes these things are necessary I suppose...

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