By Mary Ann Faremouth, CPC
Have you ever fallen flat on your face? I don’t mean this as a metaphor, I mean literally fallen on your face. I did this about 10 years ago while moving my son into an apartment closer to his graduate school. I tripped and fell face down onto a concrete block and ended up breaking all the bones in my upper mouth, requiring a full row of implants. I broke my arm and wrist trying to prevent the fall and lost my front tooth. I also really bruised my face, to the point of looking like a monster. Of course, I take responsibility for carrying heavy boxes and not watching where I’m walking, but that’s the last time I ever help anyone move!
Now, imagine you take a serious fall like this and sustain these types of injuries and the next day your BIGGEST CLIENT calls you while you are in the oral surgeon’s office getting fitted for a retainer so you wouldn’t look like the Wicked Witch of the West with no front tooth. And of course, he demands that you come to his office the very next morning to visit with him about filling a very important job. And you can’t even speak clearly to him on the phone because the oral surgeon’s fingers are stuck inside your mouth. What would you do?
No professional should ever be expected to report for work as usual after they have sustained a major injury. But success in business is all about making decisions. In this case I knew the client and I knew the job and I was already doing everything to repair my injuries that I could, so I decided to go to the meeting. I had two kids in college, was a single Mom, and I couldn’t take a chance of losing the placement. In that moment my concern for helping my client was more important to me than being worried about how terrible my injured face looked.
When I arrived at the client’s office that next morning looking like someone out of a horror movie, he walked into the lobby and said, “Oh my God, Mary Ann. What happened to you?” And I said, “Tom, I tried to explain to you while I was in the surgeon’s office that I had an accident, but I knew how important this job was to you so I’m here. What kind of person do you need and by when?” He stuttered a bit, told me he needed to have the person start by Friday for this important project and I got right to work to find him the exact employee he needed. Mission accomplished!
The following Monday when I was about to send him the invoice, my phone rang, and it was Tom. He thanked me several times for finding him a great candidate and then said, “I need to ask you a question, Mary Ann, do you have dental insurance? How much is all this dental work going to cost you?” I replied, “No, I don’t have dental insurance and the cost was about four to five times what this fee amount is that I was about to type on the invoice.”
And then he said: “I so appreciate how you put my need of hiring a candidate to work on my project ahead of your pain and suffering, I want you to bill me for the amount that your dental work is going to cost you.” I replied, “I can’t do that, Tom. And he said, “if you don’t do that, you will have lost this account!” In the end, he graciously paid for all my dental work!
This story is a perfect example of the “human element”.
In our personal and professional lives, when we can put the needs of someone else above our own, and they in turn reciprocate with unasked for generosity and genuine kindness to show their appreciation, we have just experienced the “human element.”
In these changing and unprecedented times of talent shortages, generational sector differences, hybrid and remote requests that are not well received by many companies, what if we tried to change our way of doing business and interacting with others and put the value of the relationship above all else?
What if we changed our current mindset to one of “we” instead of “me, and looked at how striving to value the relationships we have just might allow us to overcome some of the challenges we are all dealing with?
Henry Ford had a quote that has always resonated with me, he said:
“When everything seems to be going against you remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” In other words, how one reacts when they face a challenge defines everything, including the outcome. A winning attitude is what it takes, just having a strong vision and goals are not enough.
Let’s look at a few key principles that incorporate the Human Element in our personal and professional lives:
1. Don’t give in to Negative Behaviors
It would have been easy for me to criticize my client for not understanding my pain or complaining to him about what I had been through. But that would not have solved his problem and would have made me run the risk of losing this big account. Instead, I cared for myself and received the medical support I needed to recover from my injury and still showed up to help my client fill the position.
2. Show your Gratitude and Others Will Return It in Kind
My efforts to show my client how I appreciated his business and his generous offering to pay my dental bills demonstrate mutual and sincere appreciation on both sides. This mutuality has made this business relationship stronger and allowed us both to benefit for the last 20 years of working together. If I had FELT appreciation for his business but not SHOWN it, then he might never have been motivated towards his own act of gratitude!
3. Look Through Your Client’s Eyes
My client had an important project to complete that required additional staff to accomplish his business goal. Focusing only on my own situation or worrying about what I looked like would have been a distraction from the work I was committed to doing for my client. I first took my situation seriously and made sure all my medical needs were being met. But then I looked at the situation from my client’s perspective. In the end I chose to honor the long-term working relationship between us by going the extra mile, regardless of my discomfort or embarrassment.
I think we can all agree these last few years have been filled with many challenges, both on a personal and professional level. As business people we all want to achieve professional success, but the “human element” reminds us that there is a vast hidden power in working to uplift and help others in the process. We can learn to fly into the wind, using our own adversity for lift, creating a better more positive mindset, prioritizing our professional relationships to create a better win for all. So, the next time you literally or figuratively FALL ON YOUR FACE, use the above tips to rebound in a way that makes your final outcome one of victory and success!
Mary Ann Faremouth
Mary Ann holds a CPC (Certified Personnel Consultant) credential, was certified by the Board of Regents of the National Association of Personnel Consultants in Washington, D.C., and was awarded an Advanced Communicator Bronze, Advanced Leader Bronze Awards by Toastmasters. She cofounded Jobs: Houston magazine in 1997. Mary Ann maintains affiliations with professional organizations, including oil and gas, financial, construction, IT, and structural, mechanical, and civil engineering. (www.faremouth.com)
Mary Ann’s award-winning first book Revolutionary Recruiting has been listed by Book Authority as Number #1 Best 100 Recruiting Books; #1 Best Seller, Non-Fiction, Amazon (2019); Top 20 Recruiting books, Recruitics; Readers’ Choice finalist (2019), Houston Literary Awards; Best Non-Fiction (2018), Best Cover (2019), and Best Self-Help (2018), Authors Marketing Guild. Her books support individuals and corporations, tap into each candidate’s unrealized potential to find the right person for each job, maximizing both employee satisfaction and the employer’s bottom line. Mary Ann showcases her expertise of the recruiting world on a monthly podcast for The Price of Business and weekly articles for USA Business. Her new workbook, Revolutionary Reinvention, was recently released on Amazon. Mary Ann lives in Houston, Texas.