To see ourselves as others see us; that would be quite a gift, no? Robert Burns expressed that sentiment more than 200 years ago in a poem written about—of all unlikely things—a louse. (Louse—you know—one member of a pair of head lice.) Burns suggested that we could avoid all sorts of mistakes and misfortune if we could watch ourselves from the world’s objective point of view.
We can’t. But there are some introspective things we can do.
First, become an observer of your own behavior. Do you offer to remove your shoes (or wear overshoe booties) when you enter a client’s home? Listen to yourself talk. Do you frequently say, “You know?” Do you address strangers as Mr. or Mrs. until invited to use their first name? If you think this is overkill, ask yourself this: what’s the worst thing a client could say about you if you do these things? That you are too polite?
Second, have a trustworthy friend observe. If you think the observer will blow smoke and just tell you things you want to hear, use someone else. Take an honest friend along on your next sales call and ask them for a brutally honest critique afterwards.
Next, ask your customers what they think—about you and about the work you perform. Create an evaluation form that asks relevant questions and ask them to complete it. Here are some example questions:
Were all of your questions answered to your satisfaction?
Was the salesperson polite and courteous?
What primary factor made you decide to accept (or decline) the work proposed?
Finally, follow the golden rule. Do unto customers as you wish others to do unto you, your family, your pets and your aging relatives. Keep that in mind and you can’t go wrong.
Ah, yes—To see ourselves as others see us. You know Robert Burns better as the songwriter who penned Auld Lang Syne, the tune we all sing badly at New Year’s parties. Even if it is June, make it your New Year’s Resolution to cast an eye inward. Your business will be better for it.
Jon Sienkiewicz is director of corporate communications for URC and a widely published freelance writer who specializes in digital photography, computer, business management and fishing publications.