During my years working in retail, politics, staffing, and accounting, I’ve encountered individuals from all walks of life. My mother taught me to never dismiss somebody based on their physical appearance, career, social status and other circumstantial factors.
Life lesson unpacked: You never know who you’re talking to.
I remembered her advice during my days in a Dallas retail store when a rather scruffy-looking man walked into my department. With thick “Coke bottle” glasses, wrinkled and untucked shirt, and baggy shorts, he looked quite disheveled. I could easily have focused my attention on other customers who looked the part, but I gave him the same courtesy as I would have given someone in a custom-tailored business suit.
As we chatted pleasantly, I learned this gentleman could probably have purchased our entire store chain in a heartbeat – he was a very prominent oil company founder and philanthropist.
While you never know who you are talking to, it is important to note you also never know who you may have the opportunity to talk to as well.
This lesson rang true for me when on a flight for a business trip. I decided to leave my headphones off and make conversation with the people around me. By chance, I ended up next to a top decision maker for a company we were proposing our services to. I was able to help solidify their final decision to hire PKF Texas as their business advisors and CPAs. So the reward for being open to a conversation with a stranger was earning a new major client.
These experiences imprinted on my memory and showed me that my mother was right. Encounters like this have happened more times than I can recall.
Treating everyone with respect is a solid foundation for successful career relationships.
For a background on this blog, please see the Preface.