I took this picture at The Laughing Goat Café in Boulder. I’m fairly sure I was either nice or at least sarcastic in a positive and friendly manner. Actually, I’m fairly certain it was the latter. This was a few months ago and it was early so I’m not positive. Being nice can be pretty damn hard at times though, so well-meaning sarcasm can act as a catalyst in those occasions. Or at least a reasonable substitute for actual niceness. It’s actually possible for people to warm to sarcasm. I’m not certain they would have kicked me out for being grumpy, but then that’s my kind of sign. This brings to mind a couple recent stories.
The first was a recent trip I took to Whole Foods to meet my wife for lunch and grab a few things for dinner. It was a rainy day so this was low pressure stuff and I was in no rush at all. I was getting close to the store and wondering whether I should get some warm soup or maybe some sushi. The next thing I knew, a black Lexus SUV was merging into my lane and its rear wheel was even with my front wheel. Since I figured I was in the middle of their blind spot, I honked and got ready to slam on the brakes in the rain so I could avoid getting run into the median. The Lexus slowed down, I rolled by, and the driver – who looked to be a short blonde – flipped me off while shooting death beams out of her eyes.
That shocked the hell out of me so when she also turned into Whole Foods, I stopped and asked her what was going through her mind. Keep in mind that I’m about 6’2″, have a shaved head, and have a nice scar under one eye. That didn’t stop her from accusing me of speeding up and cutting her off so she couldn’t merge. No matter how much I told her that my right foot was getting ready to hit the other pedal, she swore I stomped the accelerator just to save 3 seconds. Why I’d do that then stop, confront her, and deny it makes zero sense. But some people are just not out to be nice.
The other story is more recent and happened while I was in a conference room prepping for a meeting. The subject of our competition cropped up and a few of us talked some about what “the other guy” was going to do to position against us. Just about everyone in the room knows a few people who play for that team. We were happy working with them until they left and became dead to us in a figurative sense. Of course, they’re still the same people they were when I worked alongside them. Just because their business card has a different logo on it doesn’t make them a bad person. Our companies may have different tactics, but individuals tend to stay true to themselves. I made the comment that “the other guys” are for the most part decent people and, though I got a couple odd looks, I think we all agreed on that. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to beat them any less.
The truth is, people generally do business with people who they like given all other aspects such as price and product being on par. There’s plenty to do in order to get in front but needless negativity or bashing doesn’t tend to succeed. Be nice, work hard, deliver creatively and warmly, or they’ll tell you to leave.
There’s rewarding upside in this approach. Not only will people want to work or hang out with you, but you’ll enjoy the overall effect. Your day will go much better than if you’re looking to flip someone off in traffic and pick fights. The upside might actually be a little bit of caffeinated love to push your day in the right direction.