What’s Your Essential Role in the “System of Reliabilities?”

By Jeff Beals

There was a time, back in feudal England, when taking a dispute to court was generally considered a bad idea.

The final decision depended on the king’s interpretation of the conflict. That interpretation could be influenced by the king’s mood, how closely he paid attention the arguments and whatever preexisting biases he may have possessed.

And here’s the really bad part: the losing party was sometimes accused of perjury and occasionally put to death. Going to court was a high-stakes endeavor.

Suffice it to say that Medieval English merchants figured out it was better to resolve disputes amongst themselves rather than risk the king’s wrath. That eventually led to the use of contracts in the English legal system.

I found myself sitting in a contract law seminar a couple weeks ago with a surprisingly interesting instructor. I’m a history buff, so I enjoyed hearing the instructor explain the historical underpinnings of modern contract law at the start of the class. He used one term in particular that caught my attention and stuck with me: “system of reliabilities.”

In order for our modern, contract-dependent society to work, we operate within a system of reliabilities, meaning we have a reasonable expectation that the people around us can be counted on to carry out their obligations. As a simple example, the instructor said when you drive an automobile, you’re participating in a system of reliabilities – you have a reasonable expectation that other drivers will stay in their lanes and yield the right of way as appropriate (this doesn’t seem to work, however, when it comes to stopping for red lights).

The more I thought about the concept, “system of reliabilities,” the more intrigued I became. Regardless of what you do for a living, you participate in a system of reliabilities every day as you do your work.  If you work in a large organization, you depend heavily on your colleagues. Even if your business is merely a one-entrepreneur shop, you still depend on your vendors and clients.

Since there is no escaping the system of reliabilities in which we live and work, it’s a good idea to assess whether we are adequately doing our parts, playing our roles. A healthy economy and vibrant marketplace depend upon a system of reliabilities working properly. When it comes to our personal obligations, here are a few key components of the professionals’ system of reliabilities:

  • Ethical decision-making and behavior
  • Following laws and abiding by organizational rules and regulations
  • Being sensitive to institutional norms and expectations and behaving in accordance to them
  • A willingness to accept responsibility and to hold yourself accountable for your words and actions
  • Detailed and thorough communication so everyone is on the same page
  • Completing projects and tasks properly and on time
  • Empathy and understanding
  • Teaching, training and mentoring
  • A commitment to education – A society is more prosperous when its members continually learn
  • Forgiveness – helping others recover from their mistakes and transgressions
  • Charity for those who need help
  • Bravery – so you can stand up to evil

Those are some of the things that come to my mind. I’m sure I could think of a hundred more if I tried, because in order for us to be successful, we need our fellow people to meet a lot of obligations.

What do you think?  What are some other components of the system of reliabilities that our global marketplace depends upon in order to thrive? I would appreciate hearing from you!

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Watch Out: Familiarity Breeds Contempt!

By Jeff Beals

   “House guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”
   Benjamin Franklin famously penned that phrase more than 200 years ago. In other words, the more time we spend with other people and the more familiar we become with them, the more likely we are to get tired of them or find them irritating.
   Last week, I wrote an article about the role of gratitude and appreciation in your professional success. I argued we are all motivated when someone expresses gratitude or appreciation toward us but that the vast majority of us are not good at expressing it to others.  I talked about how too many professionals take for granted their clients and colleagues. I had intended to add a paragraph or two on how some people eventually develop a level of disdain for their clients, but then I realized that topic deserved its own article.
   That’s right; some professionals actually have a level of disdain for their clients, the people who pay them money. How can you develop such strongly negative feelings about the people who ultimately pay your salary and justify your job’s very existence?
The answer is, “familiarity breeds contempt.”
   You’ve heard that phrase before. It’s an old English proverb that traces its roots back many centuries. Chaucer wrote those words in 1386 inTale of Melibee. According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, “Long experience of someone or something can make one so aware of the faults as to be scornful.”
   It’s not just a saying…Familiarity can indeed breed contempt (unless you work hard to avoid it). I hear it all the time when I work with sales professionals, some of whom dangerously take their clients for granted: “That customer is such a pain in the ass; I absolutely dread his phone calls!”
   In his 2008 article, “Why Familiarity Really Does Breed Contempt,” psychologist Jeremy Dean cited a study that indicated people actually like people they know less about than those they know well. The finding runs counter to what people actually claim. If asked, most people say they like people they know very well, but as it turns out, the more you know about someone, the greater risk you’ll dislike them.
   Why is that? Dean claims that we like people with similarities to us, but the more we get to know a person, the more likely we are to find dissimilarities. Find enough dissimilarities and the person becomes irritating to us.
   It’s not just limited to your clients. Familiarity with colleagues, bosses, family members and friends can lead to contempt.
   And while “familiarity breeds contempt” is a natural human phenomenon, it’s generally not a good one.  We need our clients in order to keep companies in business. We need our bosses in order to stay employed. We need our friends and family in order to have love and security in this crazy world.
   So how do we as professionals transcend this natural human tendency and NOT hold the important people in our lives in contempt?
   These six items will help you live by a new phrase “Familiarity does not have to breed contempt:”
Start with Attitude
   In his article, “Does Familiarity Breed Contempt” in Psychology Today, psychotherapist Mel Schwartz talks about the need for positive energy. A good attitude can be a powerful antidote for feelings of disdain. If we think negatively, we might be more apt to be disrespectful and dishonoring toward others. If you are unhappy, you are more likely to dwell on the faults you see in others.
Gratitude and Appreciation
   In a nod to last week’s article, we are less likely to think of another person with contempt if we remind ourselves to appreciate everything they have done for us or could do for us. See your fellow person as a precious resource, something for which we should be grateful.
Be a Big Boy or Girl
   We can develop feelings of contempt when we perceive someone isn’t respecting or valuing us enough. Have a thick skin. Just because someone is not kissing up to you enough doesn’t mean you have any right to treat them with disdain. As a professional, you need to be confident enough to shelve those feelings even though they come naturally.
Be Forgiving
   You can avoid scornful feelings if you just forgive. The better you become at interpersonal communication, the more you will notice what lousy communicators the rest of us are. That’s okay. Just adopt a forgiving personality. Accept that nobody is perfect and that your business/career success is dependent upon a bunch of imperfect people.
Focus on Similarities
   As stated earlier, we like people with similarities to us, but we act contemptuously toward people with dissimilarities. If this is true, consciously focus on the things you have in common with your clients/co-workers/friends/family and mitigate your differences.
Walk in Their Shoes
   Empathy, seeing the world from another person’s perspective, is a powerful weapon in the fight against “familiarity breeds contempt.” There’s a reason for anything a person does and for anything a person says. We are more likely to think disparaging thoughts about a person when we don’t understand their background and the obstacles they must overcome. Figure out what makes a person tick. Discover why they do what they do.  If you know a person’s background and motivation it’s easier to give them the benefit of the doubt.
   Imagine all the money that is wasted and the business opportunities that are lost because of all the professionals who succumb to “familiarity breeds contempt.” Imagine how many office-environment tensions are unnecessarily created because contempt and derision.  Imagine how much more effective you and your organization could be if everyone made a conscious effort to truly understand other people.
   Ultimately, it comes down to respect. If you treat all your clients and colleagues with dignity while showing earnest appreciation and gratitude for them, you’re going to be more successful.
   Nobody is perfect including you and me. If you think about it, each one of us is someone else’s nuisance. Each one of us has a group of people we annoy, and we probably don’t even realize it!
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

Bonuses Get Spent. Titles Get Old. A “Thank You” Lasts Forever

By Jeff Beals

“A sense of appreciation is the single most sustainable motivator at work…Extrinsic motivators can stop having much meaning. Your raise in pay feels like your just due, your bonus gets spent, your new title doesn’t sound so important once you have it. But the sense that other people appreciate what you do sticks with you.”

So stated a recent Wall Street Journal essay entitled “It Pays to Give Thanks at the Office” by Janice Kaplan, author of the new book, The Gratitude Diaries.

Kaplan argues that gratitude – also known as “appreciation for your employees and colleagues” – improves work performance and ultimately organizational effectiveness. Furthermore, she says that “appreciation is the best motivator,” better than even financial incentives.

Kaplan is not alone in the importance she places upon showing gratitude in a professional setting.

Gratitude as Power

In her book, Gratitude at Work, former PayPal and LinkedIn executive April Kelly encourages leaders to use creative means of showing gratitude to their employees, because that gratitude reinforces positive behavior.

“Gratitude helps people feel better,” Kelly writes, “and when people feel better about themselves and about their environment, they try harder, they take more pride in what they do and they care more.

But when it comes to the effectiveness of gratitude in the workplace, we have a discrepancy: too many professionals don’t take the time to show it. Even worse, some professionals might not even feel comfortable showing gratitude.

Kaplan cited a study that found 80 percent of Americans believe that receiving gratitude makes them work harder, yet only 10 percent of the study respondents said they expressed gratitude to others each day.

In other words, we all like to receive gratitude but apparently only 10 percent of us bother to give it.  That’s a problem, because people who show gratitude at work have more collegial relationships, stronger allies and more fulfilling careers.

Not Just for the Office

Public displays of gratitude should not be restricted to your colleagues or your direct reports.

I work with a lot of sales leaders and sales reps from a variety of companies. I find it concerning that many people who work in sales, marketing or business development don’t take the time to show earnest appreciation for their clients.  Too many sales professionals take for granted their clients, the people who ultimately pay their salaries and commissions.

There’s a popular saying in the business world: “people don’t leave their jobs; they leave their bosses.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that statement, and it’s probably also fair to say that conversely people would be much less likely to leave a job if they feel appreciated by their manager.  Similarly, you could argue that clients/customers would be much less likely to leave a vendor/provider if they are made to feel valued and appreciated by an employee of that company.

It is clearly in your best interest to show gratitude to anyone who influences your success – your bosses, co-workers, staff members, clients and others.  And don’t say you’re too busy!  That’s just an excuse.  Showing gratitude is like investing money – if you always remember to do it, you’ll be quite wealthy someday.

One word of advice as you use genuine gratitude to increase your personal and organizational success: be specific. Kaplan writes that it is better to point to a specific thing a person did that makes you grateful rather than simply saying, “Thanks for all that you do.”

Regardless of how you show gratitude, it’s in your best interest to clearly, sincerely and publicly be appreciative of those around you.

It’s amazing how much power lies within simple statements…

“I appreciate your business.”

“I appreciate working with you.”

“Thank you for going the extra mile and being so committed to this project.”

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

Click here to subscribe to Jeff’s weekly articles!

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Learn How Personal Branding Can Improve Your Sales & Marketing Abilities!Download this Complimentary eBook Today: “Self Marketing Power 101″ >>

Trust in Sales Is NOT a One-Way Street

By Jeff Beals

Just as you must earn your prospects’ trust in order to sign deals, they should earn yours too.

Trust should always go both ways. Trust is a two-way street.

Trust ought to be reciprocal, because that means the business relationship can move forward with speed and ease. Keep in mind that landing a new client requires you and your company to make commitments to that client especially in a B2B environment. Those commitments cost time, money and other resources.  You might not want to make those commitments if you don’t trust the client will hold up its end of the bargain and be loyal to you (assuming you do a good job or provide quality products/services).

Ask yourself a question: What makes your best clients so valuable to you?

Think about that. When most sales professionals answer that question, they quickly say “trust!”

That’s a great answer, but enjoying a highly trusting relationship with a client means you can tell that client whatever they need to hear without worrying that they’ll dump you for your competitor. Your best clients become valuable to you and stay loyal to you, because so much trust exists.  That in turn allows you to say “no” when the client needs to hear it.

Not only does trust make business easier, it frankly makes it worthwhile.

Those who flourish in a sales career for many years endure because they put a premium on people. They build trusting relationships not just to make more money but because it’s also the right thing to do. Healthy, enjoyable, trusting relationships increase your job satisfaction, your longevity and ultimately, your effectiveness.

Elite sales professionals are in business for their clients. Ordinary ones are in business for themselves.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

Click here to subscribe to Jeff’s weekly articles!

Click here to see sample videos of Jeff speaking to live audiences!

Learn How Personal Branding Can Improve Your Sales & Marketing Abilities!Download this Complimentary eBook Today: “Self Marketing Power 101″ >>

 

7 Ways to Make Clients Feel Nobody in the World Matters More

By Jeff Beals

In today’s ultra-competitive, fast-paced economy, sales pros must take the time and do the things that make their prospects feel special. If you fail to do this, especially with the biggest and potentially most profitable clients, there will likely be a line of competitors ready to do it.

Big elephant clients know they are “big deals” and expect to be treated as such.  Smaller clients too can have big egos and sensitive feelings.

No matter how busy you are and no matter how much pressure is upon you, it is of paramount importance to take quality time for prospective and current clients.

Great sales pros believe that people take precedent over to-do lists. Here are a few things that will help you put people first and consequently produce more profit:

  1. Make prospects feel special, like they’re the only ones who matter to you, like nobody in the world matters to you more in that given moment.
  2. The most coveted clients have a right to demand red-carpet treatment.
  3. Incorporate emotion into your pitches and presentations, because emotion is one of the most powerful selling tools. Even the most “rational” institutional buying decisions are laced with at least some degree of emotion.
  4. Even if it is a sacrifice, include prospective clients at your premier events. This allows them to feel what it’s like to be “part of the family.”
  5. Don’t set up a meeting with a prospect unless you can devote adequate attention to him or her.
  6. Assess your prospect’s personality and then decide whether to lavish attention or give him or her some breathing room. Personalities vary.
  7. Value exists in your client’s mind, not yours. Don’t forget that. Many sales are lost and countless sure-fire deals are never closed, because some sales person assumed what the client values.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

Click here to subscribe to Jeff’s weekly articles!

Click here to see sample videos of Jeff speaking to live audiences!

Learn How Personal Branding Can Improve Your Sales & Marketing Abilities!Download this Complimentary eBook Today: “Self Marketing Power 101″ >>