Be Kind to Those on the Bottom
(One of the 83 quick and practical life & work lessons from Sh*t Sandwich: Quick & Practical Success Lessons for Practically Anyone.)
It’s the Little People Who Matter Most
I learned a long time ago – even before I learned how to be kind – that you need to make an extra effort to get along with the “little” people. I’m referring to people with jobs a few rungs on the ladder below your target buyer or future boss.
While I already addressed a little bit about this in an earlier lesson, being nice to the underlings deserves a deeper dive. The underlings, you see, often grow up to be important to you and your future success.
While selling beer in Chicago’s south suburbs in the 1990s, I discovered right away that baggers and grocery clerks are the ones who grow up to be store managers and buyers. Especially with today’s transient workforce where everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, there’s a great chance that this pimply-faced millennial asking you about your paper versus plastic preferences may someday own or manage a company on your radar.
I’ve never met a single restaurant, grocery, or dealership manager, by the way, that just “appeared” out of nowhere to become a manager. Nope. Every one of them started somewhere near the bottom in their respective industry. It’s the nature of most businesses; and it’s likely the nature of your business.
The old saying that “you should be careful how you treat people on the way up, because you might meet them on the way down” probably comes to mind when reading this section; though the reality is the less sexy thought that you’ll need them to help you succeed at some future date. Why not hedge your bets and just be nice to everyone? (It can’t hurt and it costs you nothing.)
By the way, all of these kindness, concern, and courtesy lessons have a side benefit greater than the primary benefit of helping you achieve some goal. They actually make you feel better on the inside. There are few things that can reduce the stresses of daily life like being kind to others.
In a way, (forgive the analogy) it’s like feeding pigeons. The pigeons don’t need you to feed them, there’s plenty of food for them in the real world. Moreover, the pigeons don’t really even “like” you when you’re feeding them – their survival skills are at work telling them to eat up and you’re kind of in the way of that big bag of food. They are selfish little bastards.
So why feed them? Because it relaxes you and makes you feel good. Nothing wrong with that.