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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 10, 2008 • Issue 08:11:01

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

Respect. We're all familiar with the word. When was the last time you considered how that word relates to the personal and professional choices you make every day? If you believe respect is the foundation upon which you've built your life and career, your business should be prospering. You probably don't need to read on.

If, however, respect could use a stronger foothold in your personal and business endeavors, you owe it to yourself to seriously think about the following statement: Respect is perhaps the single most critical component of not only making sales but also in retaining customers and successfully growing your business.

Respect is also something you can control - completely. And it can change your life - literally.

Gimme some

Salespeople want their customers to respect them, yet they don't always respect their customers. It's easy to say we respect our customers, but our actions have to support that statement. Having real respect for customers means having the courage to do the tough things whenever needed.

In the payments industry, it means being willing to tell merchants bad news - no matter how painful. It also means admitting to a mistake rather than trying to find someone else to blame.

Always think in terms of what is right for the customer even if the impact on you does not appear to be positive. And when you don't know how to solve a situation, be honest. Don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole or attempt to make a sale that should not be made.

Also, ask yourself, Do I respect all people no matter what their positions are or whether I think they're able to do something for me? It is vital to treat everyone with the same high level of respect.

Wise up

Following these simple guidelines will put you on a direct path to self-respect. Having self-respect is the surest way to gain true respect from others. But because we all have egos, we must also be watchful because our egos can cause us to be arrogant, rude and indifferent.

To determine if you're guilty of these negative behaviors, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I often feel I am much more intelligent than many of the people I deal with?

  • Do I feel like I'm constantly competing with others and always needing to be better or to one-up them in some way?

  • Do I often fail to get to know people who are part of my professional life?

When you answer these questions, be brutally honest. Often people who have the biggest issues with these questions are the last ones to realize it.

Get a life

It's only when things start to fall apart in their lives - clients leave for no apparent reason, fellow workers don't make themselves available to help them when they need it or life in general just seems to have become too hard - that some people begin to see a need for self-assessment. If you see yourself in this picture, read on to learn a little more about each behavior.

  • Arrogance: It is never wrong to know more about a topic than another person. However, it is wrong when you use knowledge to better yourself at the expense of others. The tough thing about arrogance is that you may have been acting in an arrogant manner so long that you honestly don't recognize your behavior for what it is.

    But if you find yourself feeling good about having a leg up on another person, you probably are guilty of arrogance. And, if you're often winning at the expense of others, your short-term gains will likely be far outweighed by the long-term damage you do to your relationships.

    Arrogance is sometimes confused with confidence, but it is often a sign of people who have low self-esteem and are trying to build themselves up by minimizing others.

    It can also be a hallmark of people who are very unsure of their skills or knowledge. So admit when you don't know something or you're unsure; that tells people you're working with that you're honest and trying to develop meaningful relationships.

    Arrogant behavior can be avoided by creating partnerships with others. You can only do this when you've got both ears open to other people's ideas. You also need to challenge yourself when you realize you're talking at the person rather than having a two-way conversation. Saying simple things like "that's a tough one" or "let's talk through it" can open doors to mutually respectful relationships.

  • Rudeness: Most of the time, rudeness isn't intentional. It can happen because someone isn't focusing on the people they're speaking to.

    For example, you're in a meeting and your PDA indicates you have an e-mail. Instead of ignoring it, you check its contents. This may seem trivial to you, but to those attending the meeting with you, it shows a lack of respect for the topic and their time.

    Rudeness can happen in the smallest action or statement. Practice the golden rule; don't do or say anything that you would not want to be the recipient of.

  • Indifference: When you act indifferent to other people, it's likely they will think of you as cold or unapproachable. Indifference gives the impression that you are not willing to make a sincere effort to invest yourself in them.

    If you are reserved or shy, take full ownership for overcoming this. It's not the responsibility of other people to make you feel comfortable or to draw you out.

Arrogance, rudeness and indifference often go hand in hand. And they kill sales. Work to minimize giving the impression of any of these behaviors by studying your usual facial expressions in a mirror. Do you seem like someone who is approachable and empathetic? Consider how you would respond to the person you see in front of you.

Do the same with friends or co-worker. Ask them whether they see in you a person they'd want as their business partner and someone they can trust and respect. Make sure your friends are totally honest with you and whatever they tell you, don't justify your negative expressions or behaviors - eliminate them.

Respect yourself

Some people may overlook your flaws. However, it's unlikely the merchants you're approaching will. And even if you do sign new merchant accounts despite arrogant, rude or indifferent actions, what do you think your chances will be of keeping them when issues arise or when congenial competitors offer them new opportunities? At some point, insulting behaviors will come back to you in a negative way.

We all want to be respected. Hopefully, you see that by doing the right things for people every time you get the chance, you'll actually be building your self-respect. And with this as your foundation, you'll be astounded how your business will prosper in ways you may have only dreamed of. end of article

Jeff Fortney is Director of Business Development with Clearent LLC. He has more than 12 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at jeff@clearent.com or 972-618-7340.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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