Whatever happened to the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” I think gorilla brands have squashed The Golden Rule. For the uninitiated, “gorillas” represent those organizations that out-spend, out-sell, out-merchandise, out-staff and generally out-resource all others in the category.
Why have gorillas dismissed the Golden Rule? Because they can. The Golden Rule is no more; it’s now the Gorilla Rule — “Do unto us as we would have you do unto us.” The Gorilla Rule is a one-way street pointing right back to the gorilla brand.
With the Gorilla Rule comes gorilla manners — or a general lack of manners. The gorilla mindset is a selfish one, a belief that the gorilla is owed everything and all others exist to serve them. The gorilla brand marches forward unapologetically, taking what it wants and carelessly discarding its banana peels wherever it wishes, with no regard for others. There are no manners in the gorilla’s world.
A challenger brand, on the other hand, is an entity that is out-resourced by its competitors via greater ad spending, distribution, brand awareness, finances, etc. or a brand competing in a very complicated or aggressive market.
Enlightened challenger brands know they are not obligated to live in the gorilla’s world; they are not bound by the selfish and wasteful environment created by the biggest brands in the jungle. The informed challenger brand knows to create its own jungle, a smaller ecosystem where they can compete and win. A successful challenger brand leads by dignified example, earning the respect of its colleagues, customers and competitors.
We know the Golden Rule, and we honor it. Although, to the ethics majors among us who recognize the flaws in doing unto others (not everyone cares how they are treated), we suggest everyone simply do unto others as you would have them do unto your mother.
As we contemplate this slightly amended rule, we ask that industry leaders reassess their day-to-day business practices and ask themselves, am I treating my teammates, partners, job candidates, vendors and customers the way I would have them treat my mom?
If you want to up the dignity quotient in your organization, gain a greater level of respect, create a more attractive work environment for your current and prospective employees and want your customers to adore doing business with you, preach good manners.
Here are six things you can start doing today to improve your manners, impact your business and impress your mom:
1. Say Please And Thank You
Say please and thank you all the time — even in emails. All correspondence counts and even single-word responses can be followed with a simple thanks. Email tone can be difficult to read, so make an effort to be courteous in all exchanges. Think about the receiver of your correspondence and how your words affect them. Write emails with the recipient in mind.
2. Return Calls
If somebody calls you, call them back. We know this takes time, and you really don’t want to talk to everyone, but the positive impact a simple returned phone call has is immeasurable. The marketplace is now trained to not expect a returned call, so when one arrives, it can be a bit of a shock.
Not long ago, I received a voicemail message from a salesperson pitching a media service in which I was not interested. Even so, I called the individual back to thank him and let him know I was not interested in his service at that point in time. His response? “Do you realize I’m in sales and every call is critical to me making my numbers?”
In spite of this salesperson’s commitment to his stat sheet, a returned call will reflect positively on you and your company, and it’s just good manners.
3. Return Emails
Just like phone calls, if someone took the time to send you an email, you should feel obliged to send one back. Even a single word response is better than nothing — followed by a thank you, of course.
4. Write A Thank You Note
When was the last time you sent a handwritten note? Whenever I received a gift as a kid, I couldn’t use it, play with it or spend it until I wrote the giver a thank you note.
Although every thank you note sounded the same — “Dear Grandma, Thank you for the generous check you sent me for my birthday. It was very thoughtful. I was planning on buying some baseball cards with it. Hope I get a Wes Parker. Love, Your Grandson” — the gesture made the recipient feel respected. Feel free to use my note to my grandma as a template for your own thank you notes.
5. Don’t Interrupt
Respect the speaker, and let them finish their thought before stepping in with a thought of your own. Nothing says, “I’ve got something better to say” than interrupting someone mid-sentence. For bonus points, practice this during conference calls.
6. Watch Your Language
Our vocabulary has taken a beating over the past several years. Words that would have regularly found themselves in business conversations a decade ago have been contracted, replaced or outright removed in today’s vernacular. In spite of an effort to shorten language and reduce the length of most conversations, there still seems to always be room for the occasional curse word or the salty slang. You know, the seven dirty words George Carlin said could never be said on TV.
No one can argue with the impact that a simple single-syllable four-letter word beginning and ending with hard consonants can have on a business meeting, but save that language for where it belongs: the locker room, a wrestling match, etc. Nothing reveals character more than word choice, and choosing words frequently used in a Ray Donovan script isn’t going to help you out in the dignity department.
In short, having good manners is good business. It reflects well on you, your company and your mom.