Growing up, my very wise – and beloved – grandfather would always say, “You get more bees with honey than vinegar.” I was always perplexed by this logic – why would anyone want more bees? But, as usual, when I challenged this statement, he patiently explained that if you DID want more bees, it would be wiser to go about pursuing them with sweetness (honey) than with nasty, sour vinegar.
It turns out my Appalachian grandfather, son of a real-life coal miner in Kentucky and Tennessee, born in the great depression with a work ethic only paralleled by his devotion to family, was quoting a common English proverb that ACTUALLY, thanks Google, first appeared as early as 1666 in Italy!
It simply means that kindness and sweetness are the preferred means of getting what one wants, or accomplishing your goals, than the alternative.
This saying has stuck with me through the years and has become a part of my midwestern heritage, deeply rooted in my psyche.
AND dare I say, it covers a wide array of human relationships – INCLUDING the customer / vendor relationship.
As I navigated high school, college and even my early career, these words always returned true no matter the goal or situation. And Grandpa was right – approaching every situation with kindness, albeit humanity, worked every time – disarming the most angry, ill-tempered teacher, professor, customer – even boss!
The truth is, humans are hard wired for relationship and connection. Companies who lose sight of this and focus purely on transactions – closing the deal – and not the customer as a person with unique challenges that need solving, I believe are missing out. Oh sure, they may generate revenue, but are they building trust with their customers and a partnership that will stand the test of time?
What a relief to work for a company and in a culture that gets it – it’s about people. People helping people.
In a fast-paced world where everyone is in a hurry, scrolling through life looking for what’s quicker and easier across every aspect of our lives, when we pause to follow the Golden Rule and treat others the way we want to be treated, the dynamic of every human interaction changes and humanity wins.
Maya Angelou is credited as saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”