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Being Nice To ‘Nobody’


Paying More Attention

I find myself replaying conversations in my mind a lot. Usually they are the small, seemingly insignificant conversations that come back to me at odd times, as I’m driving or before I fall asleep at night. When my mind is free to think, it often revisits bits of interaction which at first appear ordinary. Recently I’ve come to believe that these replays are no accident and that I’m supposed to be paying more attention. So here I am.

Suck-Ups Suck

I’ve never been real good with the whole idea of sucking up…you know, people who un-genuinely compliment you, or worse, yes you to death. A couple times in the recent past, I’ve had people I see pretty often approach me with a smile and say ‘Oh, I didn’t know you held such and such position with a certain organization!’ as if, somehow, finding out this new bit of information about me has made me more likable and worthy of kindness. That the smile and the tone were very different than the ones I usually see and hear put me on edge. Knowing they had something to gain (theoretically) by ingratiating themselves made my radar go wonky.

The Respect Pyramid

Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed these changeling behaviors before. In discussing the idea of customer service, I often use this example: I’ve walked in the office of my homeowner’s association as a renter, as a homeowner, as a member of the Board of Directors, and as President of the HOA, and noticed a distinct difference in how I was treated in each circumstance. With the former being treated as someone slightly better than a slug and at each each subsequent ‘level’, the treatment got a little better, culminating in the latter scenario where I felt I got the red-carpet treatment.

We have since fixed that problem, as excellent customer service demands that everyone walking through the door be treated like they are the President, but, again, it got me to thinking.

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Lowly Assistant v. Worthy Boss-Man

Another example…years ago, in working as an Assistant to a real estate broker, I handled a lot of client calls which included the occassional unhappy customer. Many times I would be astounded at how the caller spoke to me on the phone and then changed their tune when the Broker got on the phone. It was ok to be nasty and rude to the Assistant, but when the ‘important person’ got on the phone, civility returned. WTH?

Self Reflection

I wonder, do I treat people differently based on who they are, or what they look like (see Susan Boyle), or by what I think they might be able to do for me? Gosh, I hope not, but I’m afraid I might. I will have to pay closer attention to that.

Written By

Lisa sells residential real estate in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern PA, and authors The Poconos Real Estate Blog. Being a strong believer in community participation, she currently serves as President of a 1700 home Property Owners' Association and Secretary of the Board of the local REALTOR Association for 2009. Her most challenging and fulfilling role, though, is that of Mom to two teenage girls, and her main hope for them is that they learn to appreciate the abundant joys of a life lived with a positive attitude. You can connect with Lisa on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn.



  1. Louise Scoggins

    May 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    It’s the unfortunate truth that not everyone lives by the golden rule…it happens in every field. I treat all of my customers the same…whether they are buying a $60,000 foreclosure condo or a million dollar mansion (I closed both within the same month last year and my office was joking about how I worked the entire spectrum). Something tells me, Lisa, that you apply the golden rule in all you do though, so I wouldn’t worry too much about your replayed conversations!!

  2. BawldGuy

    May 13, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Hey Lisa — You and Louise make excellent points of course. Speaking from a purely business standpoint, a lesson I learned early on has proven invaluable countless times, is the ‘you don’t know with whom you’re dealing until you do’.

    As a 20 year old salesman in a local haberdashery, he spied a farmer, still dress in overalls, wearing a straw hat, and lookin’ like, well like a farmer. The guy pointed to a very expensive (for the time, about 1949 or so) shirt in the window display, and said he’d like to see one in his size. Dad, having sized him up in two seconds, opined that another shirt might cost less and look as good. The farmer smiled, and, says Dad, “Pulled out a wad of cash that would’ve choked Secretariat”.

    From that day forward and forever more he never pre-judged anyone based upon anything but personal experience — and then very slowly.

    I can say with confidence that attitude has not only earned me many paydays I might otherwise have walked right by, but also saved me who knows how many embarrassing moments.

    Good stuff, Lisa.

  3. Ken Brand

    May 13, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    This is important. There are a handful of life changing habits that ripple through all aspects of life. What you’re sharing here is one of them. Treating everyone with respect and courtesy. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Kathleen Buckley

    May 13, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Paying attention, making observations, constantly seeking to improve–thank you for sharing your secret to excellence with us!

  5. Lisa Sanderson

    May 13, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Louise & BawldGuy: Don’t judge a book by its cover has to be pretty high on the list of business rules, for sure. Respect pays, not just in karma points either!

    Ken: Yes, an important lesson indeed. Hoping this message is getting through to our children too.

    Kathleen: Aww, shucks! (Thanks for noticing LOL)

  6. Joe Loomer

    May 14, 2009 at 8:09 am

    I learned long ago that it’s all about respect. In this market, I’ve done better with the honest truth about the market rather than painting a rosy picture of what sellers’ options are. Turned down a few in the proccess.

    Coming from a military background, I had to tone it down quickly when I entered the real estate fray – I’m a different man now than I was the day I stepped ashore for the last time. The thoughts here are pretty much a litany of what I went through – thanks Lisa for reenforcing the simple every day acts that will keep that look in the mirror a smile…..

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  7. Karen Rice

    May 14, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Excellent thoughts here. I saw a blog written one time by a new agent who was complaining about the “hicks” that came in on a Sunday afternoon just as she was about to take the rest of the day off. Her tone was so rude and she was so offended by these people who were “wasting her time.” I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn those people went to another agency where they weren’t annoying the agent with their business. Not to mention, how many people was she offending with her blog?

  8. Debbie O'Brien

    May 15, 2009 at 9:16 am


    As you know, I’ve had the honor of experiencing the same treatment referred to in Lowly Assistant v. Worthy Boss-Man. Soooo true! I look at it this way, we all put our pants on the same way each morning no matter who we are. I also feel that no matter what your title or position in this world is, we are all human beings, brought into this world with nothing. If you are a lousy person, it doesn’t matter what your title is or how much money you have. One of the best things you can give someone is respect…and it’s free! 🙂

  9. Lani Rosales

    May 17, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Lisa, this is a great reminder not of just how we interact with each other in person in our businesses but online- there is a lot of ignoring of “nobodies” and a lot of ass kissing of “sombodies” in the social media arena and we have to remember that yesterday’s nobodies are today’s somebodies.

    Jeff knows my favorite “don’t judge a book” story but I’ll summize it here anyhow: a Houston farmer I was friends with walks into a Corvette dealership in a nice part of town- he wears overalls with no shirt, didn’t shower and failed to wear shoes. All of the sales people scoffed as he walked in and acted disgusted, he heard “who does he think he is?” On the showroom floor, he got into one of the cars and the 2-day young saleswoman kindly walked over and said, “it’s a gorgeous car, isn’t it?” “Ah yes, I do love this one,” he said as he smacked a wad of gum. She jokingly asked, “how many would you like, sir?” With a straight face he said, “I’ll take four, do you take cash?” Suddenly all the staff started jumping asking if they can get him a drink and he said he’d only work with the one young saleswoman and last I saw him in 2004, he’d bought over 20 Corvettes from that one woman, not because he wanted or needed them, but simply because she didn’t judge him and he cared to reward her.

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