I was talking with a friend of mine who also runs a home-based business and shared that I have been writing some blogs about pleasantries in business and the need to provide positive customer service. He suggested, however, that niceness is NOT always the order of the day and that sometimes, a business owner has be little tough and gruff to further his or her business interests.
I suppose it is like parenting or any other relationships—sometimes firmness is important. We certainly don’t want to appear meek or as though we are willing to take whatever and bend over so far backwards that we fall over. There are times when it is necessary to set boundaries and say “no” to customers, clients, and vendors. I don’t believe we need to be mean and scary about it—but my friend is right, we can’t always be nice.
I have had to learn the hard way that niceness doesn’t always work. I still have not received payment for services rendered from one client for whom I extended due dates and was lenient because they were a fumbling and stumbling nonprofit. Now, granted, I may not have been paid anyway and when I did get tough and unpleasant in demanding payment—it did not “fix things.” But, had I been firm and started tougher collecting procedures sooner, I might not be out the two month’s worth of revenue that the board of directors has decided not to pay.
Sometimes we have to lay things out very clearly and be tough in order to protect our business interests. I still think that there can be a pleasant way to be firm for most situations, but there are definitely times when strength and being “not sweet and nice” is in order. As business owners, we just have to find the right balance.
See Also: Balancing Heart and Head