Recently, a client and friend of mine shared an article she read as she felt it mirrored a topic we have discussed numerous times. The topic revolves around the increasingly prevalent requests by anyone and everyone to “meet for coffee”. Since I started my business in 2007, I have increasingly found myself being bombarded by these requests, most often to offer counsel on career directions, job challenges, and a myriad of other professional development areas. Sometimes I know the person; often I don’t. I personally get tremendous fulfillment through helping others; after all, that is why I founded Alignment, Inc. in the first place. Yet, I have found it amazing and often incredulous how these conversations actually take place, especially for a “first impression” meeting. Thus, I thought we may all benefit from a few basic reminders that manners matter…especially when someone is trying to help us!
1. Make it easy for the person you are meeting. Choose a place that is convenient for them or, better yet, let them choose the place! Also, come prepared. The person we are meeting shouldn’t have to work hard to learn about us. We need to have concise answers to: Who am I? What is my story and why should anyone care? What defines my uniqueness? What am I looking for? What do you need/want from me?
2. Put the phone down. Frankly, this still amazes me. Just turn it off when we meet with someone. It is rude to keep texting or to pick up a call – after all, that sends the message that the person on the other end of the phone is more important. Now, for those that say….I am expecting a call, etc…OK – I get it. Just apologize on the front end – and set the expectation. Yet, best case – just turn it off and respect the other person and their time.
3. Complainers: bottle it. When we find ourselves in a funk in life – which can be brought on by a whole host of things like a job we don’t like, being unemployed, or simply lacking direction – it often can lead to finding fault with everything else! “I have no money. It is too cold in here. This is ridiculous…$6.00 for a cup of coffee?” The list can grow without any effort. So, resist the urge to purge these complaints. It is not a turn-on – it is turn-off. And this leaves a lasting impression, which is not a positive one.
4. It is not all about you. Sure, we are reaching out because we need help. I have been there – and I am still there in certain areas in my life! Yet, we are all in this together. Everyone has a box of rocks to carry. So, when we meet with folks, offer to help them, too. Think about it ahead of time; what can I do to help this person? Then, offer it proactively, generously, and be sure to follow through. That creates a circle of support between the two people – and that is powerful.
5. Say thank you! This is so easy, yet I cannot begin to tell you how often this is forgotten. It is as if we think we are entitled to the person’s time, their introductions, their referrals, etc. We aren’t. So, we just need to take a few minutes to jot a note or an email to sincerely thank the other person for their generosity of time and spirit.
Sounds simple? Yes, it is. However, I know in our busy, hectic, stressful lives – these basic manners bear reminding.