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It pays to be respectful

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It pays to be respectful.

It’s the right thing to do. But it’s also usually the smart thing to do.

Here’s why.

Imagine two debt collection agencies. One uses high pressure tactics to get people to pay their money back. While the other tries to get thank you cards from those same people.

Which do you think performs better?

In his book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek shares this real life example.

One agency pays its staff bonuses on how much money they recover (the traditional approach).

The other pays bonuses on how many thank you cards staff receive from the people they’re collecting from.

The first agency is – like most organisations – staffed by reasonable, rational and decent people. People who pitched together to help one another out and to donate to local charities. But who tended to be aggressive and hostile when calling debtors; bullying them into paying their debts back.

The second agency was also staffed by reasonable, rational and decent people. But they’d built a culture based on respect and kindness. And this shined through in how they approached people they were collecting money from.

How did the second perform?

It collected 300% more debts than the industry average. And most of the people they recovered debts from did repeat business with the organisations they’d owed money to.

This demonstrates the value of respect and kindness.

Even in a traditionally aggressive, hard-arse industry like debt collection, it pays to be respectful.

And I can’t think of a single scenario where being disrespectful or unkind would be a reliable strategy for success. Let alone an appropriate way to be.

This is especially true of being a leader. There is no need to be disrespectful or unkind.

Even when people do the wrong thing – for example, gross misconduct – we don’t need to lower our standards. We can sack somebody, and do it with respect and kindness.

And being respectful and kind is something that I don’t think we’ll ever regret.

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