by Jeff Shore
I am a goal-setting guy.
I keep both short-term and long-term goals posted on the wall next to my desk and I review them every day. It is a proven fact that people who write down and regularly review their goals are far more productive.
A few years back, I expanded my goals by identifying not just financial and growth goals for myself, but also character goals. I want to build my character with as much focus and purposefulness as I put into building my business.
This year, one of my character goals is kindness. I am not a generally unkind person, rather, I am selectively kind.
I am kind to the people I know and love and I am kind to those who do something for me. But I am not so kind to the lady who collects the bridge toll, the clerk at the supermarket or the TSA agent.
For those of you who regularly follow my blog, you know I write predominately about sales. In my opinion, kindness has everything to do with sales. Salespeople, take note: kindness is a goal worth having!
A History of Unkindness
To start with, we have to live down a history which suggests salespeople are anything but kind. Think: Glen Garry Glen Ross.
The classic, stereotypical belief, as depicted in that movie, is that salespeople are cutthroat and unethical. In some cases, people think we are downright mean. Unfortunately, there are good reasons people have such negative opinions about salespeople.
For example, there is a horrible book in circulation that offers manipulative sales techniques that would be laughable if they were not actually used by some shysters. One particular closing suggestion includes this statement: “Note: in most cases the customer will feel like an idiot and go ahead and purchase.”
On the flip side, we have all experienced salespeople whose “kindness” is so contrived it is laughable. Customers see right through fake kindness and they view such salespeople as slimy, slippery, and just plain icky.
Is there room for genuine kindness in the sales world? Yes! There is not only room for it, there is a calling for it! Here are three ideas to help you get started in building your kindness muscle.
1. Check Your Motives
Kindness is more than merely “being nice.” Kindness is about action. By definition, kindness is about serving others vs. oneself. Begin by thinking about why you want to exhibit kindness. If your knee-jerk response is, “to get more sales,” think further. An answer based on serving others will propel you in the right direction.
2. Practice Kindness as a Lifestyle
The best sales professionals do not have an internal switch they flip when a customer comes through their door. They simply leverage who they are (their character traits) in their sales presentation. They are who they are. Customers (like people everywhere) respond positively to salespeople who are genuine.
To build your kindness muscle, practice outside of work. Being kind to your family and friends is a good place to start, but you will grow the most when you practice being kind to total strangers. Think about what it looks like for you to practice kindness in specific, everyday situations. Having a healthy kindness muscle means that kindness is not something you turn off and on—it is who you are all the time.
3. Commit to Unilateral Kindness
One of the reasons we struggle with kindness is that it is difficult to extend kindness to someone who is not being kind to us. Let’s face it, we are much more likely to show kindness to someone who is kind to us first, right? My advice is: be that person. Be the person who initiates kindness. Don’t make your kindness conditional, make it unilateral.
I talk a lot about changing someone’s world. This does not necessarily require Herculean effort on your part. Sometimes we change the world by the smallest act of kindness—and along the way, we reap the benefits.
Try a little kindness. You will be a better person for it. And you might just change someone’s world.