The Danger of Always Wanting to be ‘Liked’ in Business

As I start working with more and more businesses, I find they all have their own cultural quirks. The latest business has a culture of wanting to be ‘liked’.

This need to feel ‘liked’ is resulting in the staff not saying no to their clients, themselves and each other. Ultimately this leads them to making commitments that they can’t keep – and making everyone VERY unhappy and is even starting to damage their reputation. They then start to get overwhelmed with all of the commitments they have made (and clearly can’t keep) that they start to do the most obvious thing – they stop answering their phone.

Now let’s put yourself in the other person’s shoes at this point and imagine its delivery for an online order you have just placed. You would fairly assume:

• It will turn up in good condition and on time.

• If there is a problem, they will let you know.

Now you find that your order has not arrived and that they are not answering the phone or responding to emails. Questions start roll through your mind ‘Am I EVER going to get it?’, ‘How did I pay, can I even get my money back?’. 

Do Things Differently

Now depending on the personality type of the individual responsible for the non-delivery at this point you either do one of three things:

•  Fight – Get angry with the customer/co-worker and explain how their high demands are causing you to suffer. You will genuinely start to believe that you are doing them a ‘favour’.

•  Flight – Stop answering your phone or responding to emails (this is the most common response for ‘pleasers’ as they don’t want to create conflict.

•  Freeze – Work becomes so overwhelming that you become incapacitated and unproductive and you just stop working all together (what happens when ‘pleasers’ are in flight mode for too long).

So, given the heightened state of all-round unhappiness what is the best solution to this situation?

  • Pick up the phone, start replying to emails and be honest about your ability to deliver. Even if the answer is ‘I am sorry we have just been bombarded, we really appreciate your choosing us, however we are currently unable to fulfill your order until insert date at the earliest.’

How to prevent a downward spiral:

Anyone who knows me knows I have a reputation for ‘not telling them what they always want to hear, but if I make a commitment, I keep it’. In other words – I always delivery. This reputation has resulted in me being requested in industries where reliability is notoriously low.

Now that doesn’t mean I don’t revise dates; it just means that if there is a problem, I will tell them as early as possible. I will however be careful with the wording. For example, I would not say something like ‘the staff are all on holidays and I have to much to do’, however I might say ‘we have had a lot of demand and we are doing our best to keep up’. 

Key Points

•   Say NO. I know this sounds counterintuitive but if you can fully reflect the storm of unhappiness that is coming your way (and theirs), you can be better equip to push for what is going to make everyone happier in the long term. However, the way you word it is important.

•   Tell them that you WANT to help them and that if you have any chance to deliver / complete it you absolutely would, because they are important to you.

•   Give them a date you KNOW you will meet no matter what, NOT what date you can get it done earliest. That way if you deliver on your ‘earliest’ date you are AMAZING! If they are pushing for an earlier date again:

•  Tell them that you WANT to help them and that if you have any chance to deliver / complete it earlier you absolutely will, because they are important to you. That you would rather make a commitment you can keep, rather than having to deliver the ‘bad news’ later.

Note: If you don’t do this and you are late you will be considered ‘unable to deliver’ no matter how many extra hours you have worked and how high your quality is.

•  Tell them good work takes time. If they want a rush job, they will see it in the results. If this falls below what you would consider an ‘acceptable standard of work’ let them know and politely turn them down.

•  Be assertive and express your needs and concerns. Assertive is not the same as being aggressive. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines Assertive as:

Assertiveness is actually a key element in effective communication and a tool you want ready at your disposal.

If you would like o learn more about how to be assertive, say no, and get your clients & co-workers to like you more…

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