Whether you find yourself dealing with people in a business setting or in your personal life, how you treat them will often decide the outcome of your interactions. I know that flies in the face of common belief that, at least in business, one needs to be a tough, hard-boiled, crawl-over-someone-having-a-heart-attack-to-get-into-the-courtroom type, but it’s absolutely true. I try to forever remain nice, reasonable, and friendly in all my dealings—even when I’m not being treated in kind. With this approach, you remove yourself as the barrier to getting what you want.
Stated another way, I find that people go out of their way to help you because you’re different from virtually everyone else they deal with. This is incredible but true. Why nastiness and intransigence have become the norm is beyond me.
In an effort to prove my point, I ask you to please consider this: For the past 24 years, I’ve primarily made my living as a personal injury attorney; so I go into each negotiation with two strikes against me before I even open my mouth. People hate lawyers in general, and personal injury attorneys are considered to be somewhere between used-car salesmen and assassins when it coms to favorability on the professional food chain. Add the fact that other people are hired specifically to thwart our efforts, such as defense lawyers and insurance adjusters. That’s a lot to overcome.
I’m telling you from experience that manners and a congenial disposition turn out to be more important than which law school you attended or what your class rank was. Don’t get me wrong; you still need to be prepared and competent, but being genuinely pleasant to deal with gives you such a discernible edge.
It comes down to this: Being friendly and personable in business dealings makes people want to help you. But here’s the key: Don’t do it for that reason. Do it because it’s the right way to act. There’s a sincerity that comes through when you do it for the right reasons, and that’s what makes people bend over backward to accommodate you. You are, in essence, giving them respect, and they will almost always respond in kind.