During the holidays at Annapolis, my classmates and I would do anything to get away from the rigors of a structured military environment for a few hours. So we sang Christmas carols at a nursing home out in town. It didn’t really matter how good our singing was. Most of the residents were just happy to see someone other than a nurse holding a sharp pointy object, and we were just happy to see people who were happy to see us. One Sunday after we finished singing, we mingled with the elderly residents. I’ll never forget meeting a young couple of love birds who had been married for over sixty years. I was mesmerized as I listened to their endearing story of how they first met, the tragedies that they faced, and how they had overcome them by keeping a strong faith and working very hard at their marriage. “You’ve obviously been very successful in your marriage,” I said to my new friends. “What is the secret of your long and lasting relationship?”
The husband beamed back with a smile and said, “Give and take…but mostly give.”
I think his response is the secret of all lasting relationships, including those that we have at work. Give and take…but mostly give. What would it be like in your office if your entire team functioned with the attitude of “Mostly Give”? What would your customers think of you? How much repeat business would you have? How easy would it be for you to lead your employees with this attitude?
The concept of ‘Mostly Give’ is what builds organizations and helps them to stand the test of time, especially in the area of customer service. It’s what makes the Early Girl Eatery in downtown Asheville my favorite restaurant for breakfast. If you ever want to see the concept of ‘Mostly Give’ in action, then eat your next breakfast there. First you get an authentic smile from the hostess, followed up with a quick and friendly visit from the waitress, topped off with good food and great service. And at the end of your meal, you know you’ll be back soon.
Living with the attitude of ‘mostly give’ is the fundamental premise of repeat business. We can’t help ourselves when we are treated this way. We want more of it. We cannot have enough. We tire of poor service and self-centered sales people who fail to comprehend that the customer will never pay for anything that has no personal benefit to them. But if the sales rep figures out how to give more than what the customer will pay for, then they will have more business than they can handle. All relationships are give and take, but those that work and those that last are based on this premise.
This attitude of ‘Mostly Give’ applies to those in leadership roles as well. Think about the best boss you ever had. There was a reason why you were compelled to follow him or her, and that was probably based on this leadership concept. If we are following a leader who serves his team this way, then we will respond. We are wired, both through social conditioning and our psychological makeup, to respond in a cooperative and supportive manner to this type of leader. Striving to give more than you take is the best way to earn the trust of your employees. In fact, it is based on the principle of reciprocity as described in Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: Science and Practice. (For a free special report on the six principles of influence, email me at email@example.com). If you extend a courtesy to someone else, then they are inclined to reciprocate that courtesy. If you are leading a team and extend trust, guidance, and encouragement, then they will reciprocate with trustworthiness, self-direction, and motivation.
The next time you engage someone else in a critical encounter, whether it’s an employee, a colleague, or a customer, make an effort to exercise the attitude of ‘mostly give’ and watch how long your relationship with them endures.
Copyright (C) 2008 Scott Love
Scott Love improves company profit margins by working as a management consultant, author, and professional speaker. Based in Asheville, Love can be reached at 828-225-7700 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.