Today I am reminded how easy it is to destroy things. Directly across the street from our office is (was) an old car wash. I don’t know how many years the car wash had been there, but it appeared to be a landmark.
Over the past couple of months we’ve noticed little changes at the car wash. First the trash stopped getting picked-up. Next the grass turned brown and the weeds grew taller. Most recently the power company came and disconnected the electricity running to the building.
Then a very large tractor arrived. It destroyed the car wash in about two hours. (I didn’t get much work done in those two hours, but watching the tractor work its magic was fun!) As I observed the demolition, I wondered how long it took to plan and build the car wash. Certainly it took several weeks if not months to carefully create blueprints, obtain financing, hire the right building contractors, etc.
How does this relate to building a successful business? You’ve worked long and hard to build your business. Perhaps you literally put everything (life savings, relationships, time, etc.) into creating a business of value. You’ve carefully analyzed your market and created fantastic products or services to fulfill a need. And over several years, you’ve carefully cultivated business relationships with your customers, employees and banks. All of this hard work can be destroyed with just a few careless words in a fit of anger. Your words, body language and tone of voice can either build up or tear down relationships.
Admittedly it is difficult to always interact positively with others. At times, difficult conversations need to occur. Here are a few tips that just might help in these situations:
- Take a few seconds—or many seconds, if needed—to think before you speak.
- Hold potentially difficult conversations in private instead of out in the open where your communication might have unintended consequences.
- Listen intently when confronted by an angry individual. Empathize with them and use positive self talk—you can (and must!) handle the situation and respond calmly.
- Forgive others and admit your own mistakes when needed.
- Learn to not take yourself too seriously—it is ok to laugh and have fun!
Numerous books and articles have been written about how to control anger and get along with others. Explore them for more tidbits of advice, and then share with me what you find!
Just remember: It only took 2 hours to destroy the car wash. It certainly took much longer to build it.