“The earth is hiring and the pay is your legacy.”
—Channon L. Alder
The first law of forensics is that every contact leaves a trace. Every contact, leaves a trace. Think about that for a moment. Every time you talk to someone, interact with someone, or touch someone’s life, you leave a trace. What does that mean to you as a business professional? It means that you leave a trace on everyone you come in contact with in the course of doing business.
So the question is this. What kind of a trace or mark do you want to leave? As a business owner, CEO, Executive or front line manager, you have control over what kind of a mark you leave, not only for your company, but for you as well.
Who do you come in contact with and in what capacity? And when you do, do you leave a positive or negative trace? And do you care?
Let’s take the first part. How many contacts do you have throughout the day? In one day, you could possibly meet with your team, your subordinates, your customers, your suppliers, your strategic partners, and others associated with your company. Now, what about people you come in contact with on the way to work, during lunch, in the elevator, in the hallway, in the reception area, and on the way home from work? Not to mention family, friends, and a host of others outside of work. That’s a lot of contacts! Are you happy with the trace you have left on all of those contacts?
None of us can honestly say that we are satisfied that we have left the best possible trace on all of our contacts. Some we regret. Some we blow off believing we will never see these people again so it doesn’t really matter. Well, think about this. Contacts don’t necessarily occur only with people we interact with. Contacts happen when others view our interactions. That too leaves a trace.
Makes you think doesn’t it? Every contact leaves a trace.
Now, if you’re happy with all your interactions with your contacts and satisfied with the trace you leave on them, then you can stop reading. Congratulations, you are a much better person than I am. But, if you think that perhaps you could use some insight on how to leave a better trace, then please read on.
Here are five ways to help you get the most out of your daily contacts and to help you leave a better, more positive trace:
Look at the big picture – A single contact by itself may not seem to be a big deal, but if we look at the larger picture, it comes more into focus. One bad contact can ruin your entire day and the trace you leave can very easily ruin someone else’s day. Additionally, remember the old adage, “A happy customer tells one person. An unhappy customer tells ten.” Your one bad interaction with a customer, supplier, or employee can have a long-lasting negative impact. So, the next time you are having a contact with someone that isn’t going well, try to think of the impact and overall results of the interaction and ask yourself whether it’s worth it for this interaction to end badly.
Look at the contact from the other’s perspective – There are always two perspectives to every contact. Remember this, one’s perception is their reality. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, someone’s perception is their truth at the time. It is not easy, especially when conversations become heated, to see or want to see someone else’s perspective. But if you’re the one who tries and you’re the one who is willing, you can turn a potentially negative trace into a positive one.
Don’t let your ego get in the way – We all have egos. Egos can help us in business because a certain amount of ego is necessary for any business to succeed. Egos aren’t bad, unless they get in the way of leaving a positive trace. Just because you own the company and you’re the head honcho, don’t think that you’re the only one responsible for keeping the company running and keeping it successful. Even if you’re a sole proprietor, you still have people helping you one way or the other. Egos hurt us when they get in the way and hinder the communication process. Egos are displayed in what we say, how we say it and how we act. Egos can cause us to see ourselves bigger and better than we actually are. They cause us to believe our own press and if left unchecked can cause us to leave a negative trace with the people we interact with every day. Remember, as soon as you think you’re humble, you’re not!
Be aware; you never know who is watching – As stated earlier, contacts happen not only when we interact, but also when others view our interactions. Unless you’re in a soundproof room with no windows, someone may be watching. What would your reaction be if a good customer of yours mentioned that he/she saw how you were interacting with one of your employees and was not impressed? Or worse, they never told you, but just stopped purchasing your product or service. Be aware that other employees, customers, suppliers, potential customers, potential employees, potential partners, or these days, just someone who likes to take pictures and then post them for all the world to see, just may be watching your interactions. You can seriously injure your own reputation and that of your company in a matter of seconds. Bad traces have consequences.
None of us is as smart as we think we are – We are all smart about some things, but we are not all smart about everything. Someone else’s perspective, input, comments, and insight may not only be correct, but be instrumental in helping you implement a new idea, product, or service. Never dismiss input from anyone in your organization. Remember, some of the ideas that come to you are from people who are actually working within the processes and procedures that you are far removed from. Positive traces are left when we solicit, actively listen to, and respect pearls of wisdom brought to us from others.