The Double Edged Blade of Charm


Charm is a wonderful thing.

I love a charmer, someone who comes along with a big smile and is eager to help.  That is the best kind of reception that we can receive; if they have a desire to fulfil your desires and expectations.  All of these things are really pleasant to find in your environment.

But there is another side to the charmer’s personality.  They expect you to say yes to their effort.  They are not used to being denied for no other reason but you don’t feel like it.  You are supposed to be polite and accept their effort as cash and feel bad if you say no.  So, we as customers will avoid that guilty feeling of denying effort by saying yes.

That works with lots of people, but not really.  If you leave with the feeling of being taken advantage of you will be an unhappy customer and avoid that store in the future because you don’t like that icky feeling of being used.

So it is important that your best charmers are well trained in being able to take no as an acceptable answer to their charm.

It was quite funny this morning when I was sitting in the coffee shop where I wrote this article and I wasn’t quite ready for anything and a lovely waitress comes up with the full blown charm machine running and asks if I would like a good capuccino or a café au lait in a bowl…I said not yet; and I was briefly reminded of Bilbo’s Gollum moment in the Lord of the Rings:


I think I was momentarily scared…fortunately there were witnesses so I was okay.

But it is to be remembered as the supervisor of the sales force that our clients are more than just tools to fulfil  our objectives.  They need to be listened to and empathised with.  So make sure your charmers leave the clients charmed and not mildly terrified, queasy or guilty.

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Respect vs. duty: The Forgotten Power of Complicity

In any hierarchical relationship there is the a social contract in play.  You may ask “Why are you writing about this, Aaron?” and you’ll see that it makes a difference to your clients how your employees feel about their work and workplace.

This image comes to mind…

underpaid worker

This whole thing is related to broken window theory.  The less you maintain your workplace the less people respect it, the more you maintain it the better people feel about being there.  As the owner of your business, you have to provide a number of things to your employees to make sure that they feel that they are respected and honoured individuals in the work place.  If you can manage this you will create something far more important than DWYL(do what you love).  Because people are far more interested in working at a place that respects them and treats them as honoured members of the team than they are in simply getting paid.  That doesn’t mean we can underpay workers it just means that once fair wages are in place we have to begin with aspiration management.  So I will argue that as both employee and employer, the most important feature of our personal self-respect is the ability to accomplish goals and advance our perception of what we think we should be doing.

So should you love your job? No, but you should be able to respect what you do and the people that you do it with and for.  When we get up in the morning and we look forward to working with our co-workers, because we have fun together, the world is a different place.

When we get up in the morning and you’re going to work with a gang of morons, it’s harder to get out of bed.  So choose people and employees based on whether you think that you can respect them.

Now I walk into two different businesses and here is what happens

1) respect absent:

There is tension in the environment and the people destined to serve the clients are under motivated.  They are there to collect their pay-cheque until they find another job.  I am disinterested to buy here because I become uncomfortable in the environment.

2) Respect present:

People are having fun and like to work with the people in their environment and feel more at ease working as a team.  I get better service and am at ease dealing with the people, because I am also being respected in the environment.

So the more effort you put into maintaining the excellent relations inside your company the better your client relations will be and the more your business will flourish.

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Don’t call your clients liars


My Grandmother was easy to set off.   If you wanted to see someone rear up and kick call her a liar…and really I think this is the case for almost anyone!  People all want to be seen as good and one of the things that we all know is bad is lying.  There are many times in a day when we tell white lies but the key to those is that they are mutually agreed on and we all know that they are kindnesses and not genuine attempts to mislead.  So I was talking to one of my suppliers for, what I was to discover was, the last time.  And the conversation went like this.

Me: There is a mistake with the order…it was supposed to be one-sided not two…

Supplier: So?

Me: We need it to be one-sided so we can remove one sheet and not two…

Supplier:  Well my order sheet says you ordered two-sided!

Me: No…I remember the conversation I requested one-sided after you called me asking if it was two or one.

Supplier: Well my order sheet says two…

Me: Okay.  We, my associates and I, discussed this at length…We absolutely knew that the job had to be one-sided recto only.

Supplier: Well our order sheet says recto/verso…

Me: Alright, thank you.

And that is the last time that that business will ever hear from me for a print job…ever!  not only that it is the last time I will recommend that company as a business partner.  I even started the conversation willing to split the difference since I needed to make changes on top of fixing the problem.  So they lost a client who has pretty decent volume as we have manuals and employee handbooks that we create for our clients.  How many clients can you afford to lose in a year in an industry experiencing compression and closures left right and centre it seems to me the last thing you want to be doing is calling your clients liars to their face.

Now what to do about that?

  • Find a compromise.
  • Ask/figure out what the client needs, not what they want.
  • Always give regular clients the option to strike out once.  but also keep track of abusive clients so that you can make sure your not being taken advantage of.
  • Remember a returning client is one that will be much more profitable.

So be careful what you are saying to your clients when you tell them they are not telling you the truth…because you are calling them a liar…be ready for the consequences.

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Politesse: The oil of a healthy world!

Today I look around me and realize something…

hmmmm, wait…. we need a solid vector of attack for this….

Okay, vaccinations.  there are people today who think that vaccines are optional…and I’ll tell you why.  They work, they work really well…SO well that we have forgotten how blissfully healthy this world we live in is.  We don’t have to compose with

Type b (Hib) Meningitis
Hepatitis B
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Rubella (German Measles)
Varicella (Chickenpox)
Tetanus (Lockjaw)

Hundreds of thousands of people avoid paralysis, deafness, blindness, braces, death.  All this is a way of reminding our selves that vaccines are important, but somehow in our first world arrogance we forget these things and build up an opinion that vaccines are optional…or worse dangerous.  We need vaccines to help keep our society moving slowly forward.

Politesse is the same.  We have come to a place, as a society where we have some how decided that being polite and showing deference to others is “old-fashioned” we are too good for being considerate, polite, generous, consistent.  We can just walk out the door and ignore the world because we are the chosen center of the universe.  There is a perverse kind of attitude that comes from being too good for your boots.

Today we need to work harder to maintain the good things from the past.  While there is plenty of bath water that we can get rid of I think we shouldn’t forget the baby.

We are living in a wonderful time that will allow us to implement aspects of participative democracy and community that will blow old ways out of the water, and all the better!  But we come from somewhere and there is something to remember, that place made this one possible, so there must be value in that way of being.

We need to remember there is value in working hard, being polite, showing strangers kindness and deference.  Politeness allows people to oil their relationships.  It makes the world a smoother place to live.  We are relational beings we need each other!  So it is important to maintain those relationships and the things that make relationships healthy.  and here we can learn something from the Swiss.   One of the reasons their society works so well is the avid avoidance of keeping up with the joneses.  They don’t talk about money, and they don’t spend their time showing pictures of their last vacation in the south. (yes Facebookers, that’s you)

So take a moment and pull out your copy of manners for idiots and brush up on a few lost arts and see what a difference it makes, in your life, your business, your relationships, and your inner peace…you may be surprised!

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Warm when it counts!

Brit and Chips WC

One thing you should know about me is that I am both resilient and fussy. I can spend a week on an icy mountain and complain vociferously when my chair is cold at the house. This is just one example of how context is everything!

But it shows you care when you know what the context is and you think about how to make sure your client is being taken care of. But Aaron what do you mean? Example please!

I went to a fish and chips joint in Montreal with the family and the place was BUSY, there were people coming in and out every 6 seconds and the outside temprature was about -4,000°C outside and the interior temperature was not very warm. But as you may have noticed I had to use the water closet. (Ergo the picture above) and it was tropical! It was great.

Think about this, in what other room in your establishment to you ask your clients to get naked and sit down???

And one thing I have noticed is that most small restaurants like to keep their bathrooms at about freezing! So this was a delightful change.

If you think this is the least used room in your business so you can cut in your budget by keeping the heat low, think again. It is the room where you take people in and host their most intimate needs. So consider this when you are saving money what it is costing the people who have to undergo your icy porcelain challenge.

Ask instead, how can we make the money to cover that cost and not where can we cut that no one will notice; because they always notice.

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