Has this ever happened to you? You’re about to meet or speak to someone in either your business or personal life. Perhaps it’s a customer a new colleague or even a friend of a friend and someone else describes this person to you. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
I was running a seminar at a client’s office and I was discussing the arrangements for getting into the building and finding the training room with my contact, Steve. He explained that I’d have to check in with the security guard at the reception desk. ‘You’ll not get much help from him’ says Steve. ‘He’s a typical security guard, a grumpy old guy and he won’t be much help.’
My first response when I arrived at the office was to prepare for a battle with this typical security guard.
However, at the last moment I checked myself and decided to practice what I preach. I approached the security guard, told him who I was in a warm, friendly manner and asked for directions to the training room.
John, as his name badge indicated, said that he had to make a few phone calls to find out where my room was. In between these calls we exchanged some small talk and even managed some comments about the local football team’s performance the night before.
Initially, John was a bit grumpy but after a while he warmed up and ultimately couldn’t have been more helpful. I was treating him with respect, I was getting to know him and expecting him to respond in a helpful manner – and that’s how he responded.
Steve, of course, treated John like a typical security guard who was grumpy and unhelpful – so that was how John responded to him.
People will often respond just as you expect, it’s a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. So if you’re about to meet someone new, don’t let other people decide your behavior.