In our Twitter, Yelp, eBay, and Angie’s List-centric world where it’s so easy to leave negative feedback, it’s important not to assume that singular instances of poor service represent the entire organization or its leadership. You have to make sure you’re looking at patterns and not isolated events.

Most small business owners I know, whether the local restaurateur or retail shop owner, would want to know about poor performance at the edge of where their value meets customer demands. I often tell people, you should worry about those who go away mad and never say anything – side note: fantastic article in FastCompany about the value of complainers. The small business owners would want the opportunity to improve and make your experience, or the experience of the next customer better.

So when a client CEO tells me that he tolerates a sales EVP’s rant and raves, and rude behavior in dealing with others, because “that’s just the way he is and also because he brings in a lot of our business,” I shared with him what a mentor drove into me years ago. If others see you tolerate consistently poor behavior, they assume that you approve if not promote it since you aren’t doing anything to address it! The stunned CEO found no choice but to fire the sales exec and promote one of his regional VPs to replace him. By the way, we spoke today and sales have grown last two quarters in a row!

When it comes to business relationships, isolated behavior, such as a bad day, is just that – an anomaly. But consistently poor behavior in engaging others and the reaction to it is a true test of organization culture and values. Want to know how an organization feels about relationships? Watch how they treat those they have perceived power over, such as administrative assistants. Want to know how an individual feels about personal relationships? Watch how they treat a significant other! Are they courteous, kind, respectful? Do they put them up on a pedestal and praise their accomplishments? Or are they belittling, disrespectful, and demeaning?

When it comes to relationships, behavior is consistent. I’ve never met an abusive executive at work who is Mr. Wonderful with everyone else in his personal life! What kind of behavior do you exhibit and / or tolerate?

Make it a great week.

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