What prompted this article was a client who was unhappy with me. I had given them some feedback and it hit a nerve and they told me.
There's a time when I would have simply responded with a very logical email explaining why I was right and suck it up and follow my instructions.
And I was wishing my clients would just be easier to work with and do what I tell them to do.
As I thought about how I could best respond, a line from Charles Dickens' book, A Christmas Carol popped in my mind: Mankind is Our Business.
Mankind is Our Business
There's a scene early in the book when Ebenezer Scrooge is confronted by the ghost of his recently deceased business partner, Jacob Marley.
Marley has come to warn Scrooge that unless Scrooge changes his ways; shifts his focus from making as much profit as possible to spending his wealth to help others, he's doomed to an afterlife in chains and remorse.
Scrooge is terrified by Marley's presence and tries to calm Marley and himself saying,
"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob"
To which Marley replies, "Business… Mankind was my business … The dealings of my trade were but a water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
Coming Back to the Present
OK, so let me bring you back to how all this relates to my client situation.
I wasn't very happy that my client didn't like my advice and was telling me they weren't going to do what I suggested.
It was frustrating for me and scary because this client was a referral from someone whose esteem I valued. It things didn't work out I might lose not only a client but the trust of my referral source.
I sat and considered different ways to respond to my client's email. In the past I would have sent a very professional and business like email explaining why I was right and the consequences of not following my advice.
And that approach might work but it wouldn't work very well. What's interesting is that my client wasn't wanting my instructions and how tos even though it looked that way.
Because my client's compliance would have come at the expense of trust. And trust is what makes us coaches and consultants able to help clients make real, sustainable advancements.
Sustainable advancement is how mankind is my business.
How I Handled the Situation
I emailed back to my client saying I got that they were feeling frustrated with my suggestions and rather than continue to hack away at creating a marketing message, let's talk by phone about what they were wanting from me and how I could support them.
Is Mankind Your Business?
In most of my articles I offer some really specific steps you can apply in your own business.
In this article, the only step is to consider these two questions:
Is mankind your business? and
why did you answer the way you did?
And if you feel like sharing your response with me, I'd really love to hear what you have to say.
Saying that "Mankind is Our Business" sure sounds good what what exactly does that mean to you and I in our small businesses?
If you accept it as true for your own business, it means in addition to doing our trade: helping customers solve problems and get the results they want, we are in the business of helping our customers make lasting changes so they can see more good in the world and do more good in the world.