It’s pretty disturbing that we even need to write this but… we do.
Charmaine travels extensively as a speaker and you would not believe the number of times she overhears women on the phone negotiating contracts, providing feedback, talking to their team or clients, and addressing conflict while in the bathroom!
There’s nothing like overhearing someone say, “Sorry for the background noise, I am in the washroom!” or “Yup, that was a toilet flushing; don’t worry it wasn't mine,” or, “Oh sugar… I didn’t think you’d pick up. I’m just in the washroom! I was going to leave you a voicemail,” or (our favourite), “Can you hang on a minute… I just have to flush!”
Imagine being the client or sponsor on the end of this phone call. Sneaking in a chat on a bathroom break is so disrespectful and inappropriate on so many levels, not to mention the discomfort it creates for everyone who happens to be in the washroom at the time of the call. This is the ultimate in disrespect to all parties involved.
Business etiquette is critical in collaboration and sponsorship relationships.
Every action you take -- how you show up and how (and where) you communicate with people -- models to partners what you are like to work with.
If you are not in an area that you can talk privately or without distractions, here are a few things you can do that show integrity and respect for your clients and sponsors:
- Be transparent. Tell them that you are in a public place and will just look for a quiet and private area to continue the conversation. If you are worried about them not taking your return call, simply let the person know you will put them on hold for a moment and mute the call until you can find some privacy. When the person knows that you are respecting their privacy, they will respect that about you. If you cannot find a quiet or private area to talk, ask if you can reschedule the call.
- Don’t answer the call. Let it go to voicemail and send them a short email saying something like, “I saw your call come in; however, I was at the airport and not in an area that was quiet and private to take your call. I will call you back right away.”
- Don’t call people (hoping they won’t answer and you’ll get their voicemail) when you can’t be present on the call. Sometimes they might just pick up!
Once trust or integrity is questioned, it is difficult to change assumptions, repair the impact, and move forward.
Don’t flush away great contacts and relationships.
Model respect. Show from the start that you have integrity, that you value their time, and leave clients and prospects with lots to good gossip about to their colleagues.